McClean strike sinks Austria

Ireland produced a classic away performance to beat Austria 1-0 in their 2018 World Cup Qualifying Group D fixture at the Ernst Happel Stadion.

  • Austria 0 Ireland 1
  • Austria dominate early stages
  • Scrappy affair until half time
  • McClean opens the scoring
  • Ireland hold on for three points

Match summary

After a scrappy first-half that proved the visitors were playing for an away point, Martin O'Neill seemed happy to go into the break at 0-0.

However, a James McClean goal against the run of play in the second half secured an unlikely away win to put the Green Army top of Group D.

Full report

The first fifteen minutes of the game was an all-action affair with Ireland pegged back in their own half for the entire period of play.

The swift movement and direct running from the home side left O'Neill's defence looking nervous but the managed to survive the barrage of attacks and countless whipped crosses unscathed.

Totally against the run of play Ireland got their first chance when West Brom winger McClean created something out of nothing.

After his deft touch pulled down a long ball from the defence, his quick turn engineered a bit of space for a long-range effort, that deflected off midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger and just wide of the far post.

Mid-way through the half, the away side were dealt a bitter blow when Glen Whelan had to leave the field of play with a suspected hamstring injury, and was replaced by David Meyler in the heart of the midfield.

The following twenty minutes proved to be a scrappy affair with only 59% of Ireland's passing finding a teammate, and Das Team doing very little with their 65% possession.

With the crowd starting to become impatient with the lack of quality play, Ireland nearly found the lead through Jonathan Walters.

Robbie Brady's sweet first-time cross found the tireless forward in the six-yard area but as the Stoke City man slid in with his side foot it bobbled just over Ramazan Ozcan's cross bar.

That was the last real action of the half with the Green Army happy to be level on terms going into the break.

With the Irish knowing they stood one half away from topping group D, they made no changes at the break and it paid off two minutes into the second-half.

McClean, who created the only chance for the away side in the first 45, latched onto a brilliant through ball from Wes Hoolahan – to go on a surging run, before smashing the ball through the legs of Ozcan.

The next twenty minutes were frantic, Walters had a goal disallowed for an off-side call and Bayern Munich's David Alaba started pulling the strings in midfield with a couple of stunning long range strikes.

Marc Janko had a the best chance of the game to get the home side back on terms in the 87th minute but the giant striker skewed his effort wide, after doing well to reach the cross.

Nonetheless, Ireland held firm in defence, to claim all three points and top spot in Group D with 10 points, with Austria down in fourth, with four points.

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