A tantalizing clash awaited us as Austria was drawn against Ireland in the last 16. Austria had never got to this stage of the competition, but were clear favorites going into this tie. Ireland had previously got to the last 16 in 2016, losing 2 – 1 to France. A win here for either side will set up a tie with France in the quarter.
Ireland started off strong, Maguire forcing Stankovic to hit the crowd fast and push the ball out for a corner. The resulting corner almost led to a goal, with Robinson having his shot cleared off the line by Ulmer who was defending his post. Almost immediately the ball fell to the capable feet of Brown, who curled a shot that was just tipped over the bar. Austria were lucky to come away unscathed, for now. It proved to be fourth time lucky, as Brady whipped the corner in to meet the head of Egan , who headed it home for the boys in green.
Just like waiting for a bus, you are waiting to score and then two come along at the one time. From tip off Ireland hounding Austria to win the ball back, which they did. Hendrick spotted Robinson up top, who was eagerly looking to rectify his goal line clearance. There was no one there stop it crossing the line this time, as Robinson charged passed Hinteregger and sweetly struck the ball with his left foot into the right of the net. Ireland were two up after 20 minutes.
They say the worst time to concede it right after you score. Ireland switched off which allowed Marko Arnautovic to take advantage. Leaving the Irish defence in his wake, Arautovic calmly placed the ball passed Randolph to reduce Ireland’s lead to just one. The next goal in this tie was crucial. Austria score the game is level and they have momentum, Ireland score and Austria may lose all motivation. The game ping ponged back and fourth before the referee blew the half time whistle.
On the restart neither side seemed to be the one that wanted to make the mistake that could turn the tide against their country. An uneasy feeling transcending from the fans down onto the pitch, a tension that needed to be cut. The man to do that was Robbie Brady, the Irishman man galloped down the right side of the pitch like he was a Willie Mullin’s trained horse, before providing Robinson with the easiest goal scoring opportunity in his life. Ireland doubled their lead, and a place in the quarters was becoming a reality
As predcited that fourth goal of the game proved to be crucial, Austria could not envision a comeback and Ireland went for the jugular. Goals from both Maguire and Brady capped out an incredible performance for Ireland and marked the end of Austria’s tournament
Speaking with KCLR after, Irish Manager Mark Ryan said “Another win in the bag. We put pressure on as soon as kick off started and dominated the whole match. The boys should be proud. Randolph making yet again another outrageous run but this time it worked wonders. I need to have a chat with Randolph and play him left back in the next game. Shane Duffy with an amazing leap into the heavens to head in the first goal. He scored that for his father who passed away in May this year. Bring on the quarter finals.”