Austrians in box seat after Swede scalp
AUSTRIA have given themselves a massive boost in their bid to snatch the runner-up spot in Group C with a 2-1 win at home to Sweden last night.
The Austrians, Sweden and Ireland were all tied on eight points before last night's round of games in the World Cup qualifiers, but the Swedes headed to Vienna last night aiming to at least avoid defeat and then collect a win at home to the Faroe Islands next Tuesday night.
But it was Austria's night in Vienna, as two first-half goals gave them a commanding lead and while they now have the same points from the same amount of games played as Ireland, Austria's goal difference is healthier than that of Giovanni Trapattoni's side.
Bayern Munich man David Alaba, who broke Irish hearts with that injury-time equaliser in Dublin in March, sent Austria on their way with a penalty on 26 minutes, the kick awarded after Martin Harnik was fouled in the box by 'keeper Andreas Isaksson. Six minutes later the Austrians had doubled their lead through striker Marc Janko.
There was some late drama as Johan Elmander nicked a goal for the away side eight minutes from time but Austria held on for a big win.
For Austria, the next challenge is a tough one, away to group leaders Germany in September, but if they can avoid defeat in that game, a win against Ireland in Vienna four days later would give them a superb chance of snatching second place.
3THE Race for second spot:
H v Sweden, September 6
A v Austria, September 10
A v Germany, October 11
H v Kazakhstan, October 15
H v Faroe Islands, June 11
A v Ireland, September 6
A v Kazakhstan, September 10
H v Austria, October 11
H v Germany, October 15
A v Germany, September 6
H v Ireland, September 10
A v Sweden, October 11
A v Faroes, October 15