Friday, June 7, 2013

Austria 2 - Sweden 1; Ireland 3 - Faroe Islands 0

Austria welcomed Sweden to their palace in Vienna for the most anticipated European qualifier of the day as both teams were level on points in their chase for a play-off berth.  This match did not disappoint in terms of excitement.  Midway through the first period, Austrian forward Martin Harnik was charging a ball in the box.  Harnik beat Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson to the ball and was taken down for a penalty.  Austria converted for a 1-0 lead.  Harnik again provided the impetus for a goal when his dipping cross found the diving head of Marc Janko for a remarkable finish and a 2-0 lead.  That would be the score at the break.

Sweden came out with renewed vigor in the second half, but Austria goalkeeper Robert Almer was not ready to relinquish his clean sheet.  He made two saves against Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one off a volley and another from a header, plus a close-range save on Sebastian Larsson. With less than ten minutes to play, Sweden drew closer on the scoreboard.  Ibrahimovic one-time chipped a through ball off a long pass into the path of Johan Elmander.  Almer rushed out to apply pressure, but Elmander lofted a soft volley off a bounce and into the net.  However, this goal was not to be paired with a second for Sweden, so Austria win 2-1.

Ireland welcomed cellar-dwelling Faroe Islands to Dublin, where the fans were hoping to witness a drubbing.  It did not take long for the Irish to jump ahead.  Five minutes in, the Faroese forgot to mark their right wing defensively, so a simple through ball to Aiden McGeady allowed for a rolled cross into the box, which Robbie Keane adeptly turned into the goal with his left foot.  That would be the only goal of the first half, giving Ireland a 1-0 lead at intermission.

Ten minutes into the second half, Ireland added another goal.  Wes Hoolahan shook his defender and laid a ball off to Seamus Coleman and the right.  Coleman rolled a cross dangerously into the box, and a sliding Keane was there to poke home his second goal of the night.  With ten minutes to go, Ireland prevented a ball from rolling out for a Faroese goal kick, and the desperate pass found its way to Conor Samman.  Samman made a half-spin pass to the six-yard box that was knocked home by Keane to finish his hat trick.  Ireland finish off the Faroe Islands 3-0.

Germany 16 pts +15
Austria 11 pts +10
Ireland 11 pts +2
Sweden 8 pts +2
Kazakhstan 1 pts -13
Faroe 0 pts -16

David Alaba 26 PK
Marc Janko 32

Johan Elmander 82

Robbie Keane 5, 56, 81

Match Reports:

Highlights: (Austria v. Sweden) (Ireland v. Faroe Islands)

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