McClean powers Ireland past Austria – World Cup Qualifier

Austria 0-1 Ireland

Ireland maintained their unbeaten start to World Cup qualifying as James McClean’s goal secured a narrow 1-0 victory over Austria.

McClean’s second-half strike came from an exquisite Wes Hoolahan pass just moments after Austria had appeals for a free-kick turned down.

In the dying moments, Marc Janko spurred a glorious chance to level, but Ireland held on for a famous win and their first ever in Austria.

It is the first time Ireland have tasted success over Austria in 53 years, while the three points sees them top Group D with three wins from four games.

The hosts were quick out of the blocks at the Ernst Happel Stadium, with Marko Arnautovic’s cross after two minutes nervously cleared for a corner by Robbie Brady.

Janko and Marcel Sabitzer both went close for Austria before Ireland’s first chance fell to McClean, but his effort deflected narrowly wide.

After an injury forced Stoke’s Glenn Whelan off for Ireland, it was the visitors who almost broke the deadlock through Jonathan Walters, but his header drifted beyond the far post.

Five minutes before the break, a fine Austria move saw Arnautovic play in Sabitzer, who delicately dinked the ball over Darren Randolph but his effort glanced off the bar. The ball then fell to Kevin Wimmer, but his first-time cross was cleared with Janko poised to tap in.

Moments before half-time, Brady sent in a terrific cross and Walters was there to meet it on the stretch from six yards out, but his effort clipped the bar and went over.

Three minutes after the break, Austria wanted a free-kick after Wimmer went down under David Meyler’s challenge, but the referee waved play on and Ireland countered.

The ball fell to Hoolahan on the halfway line, and his through ball found McClean, who ran through on goal before sending it through Ramazan Ozcan’s legs from a cute angle.

McClean celebrates his vital goal.
McClean celebrates his vital goal.

Ireland went from strength to strength and had the ball in the back of the net seven minutes later, but Walters was correctly flagged for offside after heading in a Brady cross.

Apart from a rasping David Alaba effort from 25 yards out – which dipped ferociously and went narrowly over – Austria rarely threatened in the second half, although Janko did have two glorious opportunities to level late on.

His first came from a cross, but his header was mistimed and sailed wide – the second meanwhile, will give the Basel striker nightmares.

With one minute left, Alaba’s cross was volleyed towards goal by Julian Baumgartlinger, but Janko headed wide from just three yards out with the goal at his mercy.

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