Soccer

Walters’ strike ensures Ireland remain unbeaten

Jon Walters - Photo: FAI.ie

Republic of Ireland remained unbeaten in their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign as Jonathan Walters’ strike ensured a point in a 1-1 draw.

Martin Hinteregger had given Austria the lead in the first-half from a well-worked corner routine but Man of the Match Walters ensured a share of the points in the 84th minute.

It was a cagey opening for Ireland in a tense Aviva Stadium atmosphere and they had to wait until the 22nd minute to create their first opening. Glenn Whelan’s through-ball was left by Walters for Stephen Ward on the left and after his cross was knocked back to Walters, he fired wide of the left-hand post.

Eight minutes later, Austria took the lead. David Alaba’s low corner found it’s way to Hinteregger who swept the ball home from 10 yards out to silence the Aviva Stadium.

Martin O’Neill’s side needed to go up a level and after the break, they began to create chances. Duffy’s long-ball forward was knocked down by McClean and after Walters was tackled, Harry Arter fired a powerful shot wide of the left-hand post in the 54th minute

Ireland continued to turn up the pressure on their Austrian opponents. Daryl Murphy was introduced and after he won the ball back 40 yards from goal, McClean picked up the ball, turned inside but fired narrowly wide in the 63rd minute.

Wes Hoolahan was also introduced and almost created Ireland’s equaliser when he crossed from the right and Austrian full-back Stefan Lainer almost turned the ball into his own net but the keeper was alert with 20 minutes remaining.

Long had a header cleared off the line and McClean blasted wide five minutes before Ireland finally got the equaliser they deserved. Austrian centre-back Aleksander Dragovic let a long ball bounce and Walters beat him to the ball to produce a fine finish into the bottom corner with six minutes remaining.

Ireland piled forward in search of a late winner and they had the ball in the net again when Murphy’s header from a right-sided corner was blocked and the ball looped into the air to be turned home by Duffy but the referee awarded Austria a free-kick.

Teams

Republic of Ireland: Randolph (GK), Christie, Whelan (C) (McGeady 76) , Brady, McClean, Hendrick, Ward, Long, Walters (Murphy 56), Duffy, Arter (Hoolahan 70).

Subs not used: Doyle (GK), Westwood (GK), Pearce, O’Shea, Keogh, O’Kane, Horgan, Hourihane, Hayes.

Austria: Lindner (GK), Lainer, Dragovic, Hinteregger, Alaba, Kainz (Gregoritsch 89), Junuzovic (Grillitsch 78), Baumgartlinger (C), Prodl, Burgstaller (Harnik 74), Lazaro.

Subs not used: Bachmann (GK), Kuster (GK), Wimmer, Laimer, Stangl, Schaub, Klein, Danso, Alar.

Referee: David Fernandez Borbalan (ESP)

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