NATIONAL TEAM: Austria takes the lead with a 1-0 victory in Northern Ireland

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Franco Foda’s team only needs a good halftime to take the victory

Austria’s national soccer team celebrated a well-deserved win against Northern Ireland on Sunday. In front of 600 spectators in Belfast’s Windsor Park, the ÖFB team won 1-0 thanks to a goal by Michael Gregoritsch (42nd) and thus took first place in their National League group. The Norwegians, who are equal on points, have the better goal difference, but lost the direct duel.

The Austrians took the initiative right from the start, but for the time being remained without great opportunities. Lainer (5.) and Stefan Ilsanker (10.) produced harmless header shots, a swerve from Gregoritsch missed the target by a clear margin (15.) and a failed volley from Baumgartner did not land with Gregoritsch but with Northern Ireland goalie Michael McGovern (19.).

But then followed a series of high-caliber shot-in opportunities for the guests. Martin Hinteregger was completely free to head in from about six meters after the Alaba free-kick flank, but he maneuvered the artificial leather right into the arms of McGovern (24th).

Four minutes later, Baumgartner scored alone after a serious error by Craig Cathcart, his shot just missed the long corner. In the 35th minute, the Hoffenheim legionnaire missed another seat when he shot over the crossbar from close range after Gregoritsch had put down a header.

So the ÖFB kickers had to wait until the 42nd minute for the relieving lead. Hinteregger hit a measured cross to the middle and Gregoritsch was successful with a placed header.

In the second half Alaba and Co. didn’t get any more compelling chances and acted much less convincingly against the stuffy opponent than in the first half. This almost took revenge in the 92nd minute when a shot from Liam Boyce missed his target by a hair’s breadth. In the end, however, it remained the fourth ÖFB victory in a row over Northern Ireland.

The ÖFB-team will continue their match against Romania on Wednesday in Ploiesti. In November, the Nations League will be concluded with home games against Norway and Northern Ireland, before which a friendly match will be played in Luxembourg.

— Hector Pascua, with reports from APA. Picture: stockilyapp.com

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