The eleven of team boss Werner Gregoritsch fought their way to a 3:2 victory over Russia in St. Pölten.
St. Pölten – Austria’s U21 national football team did its part in the qualification for the 2019 European Championship finals. With a 3:2 (1:1) against their direct competitor Russia, the team of team boss Werner Gregoritsch won the group final on Tuesday. The Austrians thus fixed second place, whether this would be enough to participate in the play-off was only clear after the other qualifying games.
The victory over Russia was hard-fought. Empoli striker Arnel Jakupovic scored the decisive goal in the 75th minute just shortly after his substitution. Adrian Grbic (13th) and Hannes Wolf (48th) had taken the lead twice in front of 1200 spectators in the NV-Arena of St. Pölten. Fedor Tschalow (15th, 52nd) almost immediately equalised the score for the visitors.
Serbia had already chosen themselves as group winners before the final matches. The four best runners-up of the nine pools are in the play-off, in which two more European Championship tickets will be played out in November. Austria’s young footballers have never made it to the U21 European Championship finals.
Both Austria and Russia needed a full success in order to maintain the chance of a trip to Italy next year. The hosts with Maximilian Wöber and Konrad Laimer, who were seconded by the A-Team, didn’t waste any time. The team started with a lot of pressure and hit the Russians early. Christoph Baumgartner, Hoffenheim’s Legionnaire, who was a bit surprisingly positioned on the left, found his first chance after only one minute, Grbic failed shortly afterwards alone in front of Aleksander Maximenko on the Russian goalkeeper.
The 1:0 for the Austrians was deserved. Wolf and Maximilian Ullmann combined on the cross, Grbic used the cross of the LASK professional per head. For the home side it was a tailor-made start. But the Russians ended the euphoria abruptly. Captain Philipp Lienhart and Co. were surprised by an extra time on the heel, Chalov showed up alone in front of Alexander Schlager and showed no nerves.
With slight advantages for the Austrians the game went towards the break. Kevin Danso hit the outer net from a sharp angle, before Laimer’s end was blocked by a Russian from an excellent position (43rd).
Gregoritsch brought Ivan Ljubic for the already yellowed Dejan Ljubicic after a change of sides. Again Austria got the better start. Wolf took part, left two Russians with technical finesse and made use of the long corner. The red-white-red eleven seemed to be on course – and once again took the quick equaliser. Again it was the ZSKA Moscow striker Tschalow, who is currently leading the Russian scoring list, who found the gap in Austria’s defence.
Russia now had the upper water, the Eastern Europeans set the pace and could be stopped increasingly only by fouls. Austria did not manage any more to disturb the game construction of the guests early. However, the Russians‘ urge phase had no consequences. In the 74th minute came with Jakupovic for Danso an additional man for the offensive. Gregoritsch’s move was immediately worth it. Grbic put his head on the Italian legionnaire, who finished perfectly with a flat shot. The final offensive of the Russians remained without consequences, Austria could have added in the counter. To know more about Lucky Pants, check them here.