World Cup Qualifying - European - Group D
WalesWales1AustriaAustria0

Wales 1-0 Austria

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales at Cardiff City Stadium
Ben Woodburn scores for Wales
Liverpool striker Ben Woodburn was eligible to play for England until his match-winning appearance from the bench against Austria

Teenager Ben Woodburn scored with a brilliant long-range strike four minutes after coming on for his international debut to breathe new life into Wales' bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Needing victory to maintain a realistic prospect of qualifying automatically, Wales were overrun by Austria in a goalless first half in which Marko Arnautovic and Marcel Sabitzer wasted good opportunities for the visitors.

The hosts continued to toil - seemingly to no avail - after the break until the 74th minute, when 17-year-old Woodburn unleashed a fierce 20-yard shot to send a packed Cardiff City Stadium wild.

With Serbia's victory over Moldova strengthening their position at the top of Group D, Wales remain four points behind the leaders with three games left.

However, Chris Coleman's side have narrowed the gap on the second-placed Republic of Ireland to two points following a draw for Martin O'Neill's men in Georgia.

They travel to face the Moldovans on Tuesday - while Ireland host the Serbs - before a trip to Georgia and a potential decider with the Irish in Cardiff next month.

Only the nine group winners in Europe's qualifying procedure automatically earn a place in next year's tournament in Russia, while the eight best runners-up enter the play-offs.

And although Wales' hopes of qualifying automatically remain out of their hands, the fact they still have any chance at all - and the manner in which Woodburn ensured that was the case - made for a delirious atmosphere in Cardiff.

Group D

Woodburn to the rescue

Even before they appeared to be heading for a stalemate against Austria, Wales' chances of qualifying were already hanging by a thread having drawn their five previous games.

Coleman had said they needed to win their remaining four fixtures to be in contention for automatic qualification and, knowing even a draw could be terminal, he boldly handed Derby forward Tom Lawrence a first competitive start for Wales, in an advanced midfield role alongside the returning Gareth Bale.

The Real Madrid forward was suspended for June's draw in Serbia, though he was less influential than usual as Austria dominated the early exchanges in Cardiff.

The visitors monopolised possession for long periods, searching patiently for opportunities to unlock the home defence but struggling to make their pressure count as Arnautovic blazed over from a promising position in the Welsh penalty area.

The hosts improved in the second half, benefitting from Coleman's decision to switch from his favoured 5-4-1 formation to a 4-2-3-1 system designed to mirror and negate Austria's.

His moment of inspiration, however, was to bring on Woodburn.

Still just 17, the Liverpool player had been in senior Wales squads before without making it on to the pitch, and it seemed a brave move from Coleman to turn to the youngster in this moment of need.

Woodburn wasted little time in making his mark, controlling a loose ball five yards outside the Austrian penalty area, taking another touch to get it out of his feet and then driving a fabulous shot past a stretching Heinz Lindner at his near post.

Ben Woodburn: Debut Wales winner 'a dream come true'

Coleman's changes bear fruit

Whether Wales reach the finals in Russia or not, Coleman has said this World Cup campaign will be his last in charge of his country, though he claimed thoughts of his future had not entered his mind in the build-up to this vital fixture.

He cut a frustrated figure on the touchline in the first half, gesturing angrily as he watched his side outplayed by their opponents.

Sensing the game - and Wales' World Cup hopes - were slipping away, Coleman took the initiative during the interval by replacing defender Jazz Richards with midfielder Andy King and making the pivotal formational switch.

The decision paid dividends, stemming the flow of Austrian pressure and allowing the likes of Bale to grow into the game.

Even after Woodburn's sensational introduction, Wales could have added to their lead in a frantic finale.

Another substitute, Hal Robson-Kanu, cleared the crossbar with one wild effort and struck the bottom of the post with another, while Bale forced Lindner into a decent save with a spectacular overhead kick.

Despite the flurry of late chances, however, the overriding emotion for Wales' exhausted players and fans at the final whistle was one of relief.

Man of the match - Ben Woodburn (Wales)

Ben Woodburn celebrates
David Alaba and Marko Arnautovic impressed for Austria but the only real moment of outstanding quality in the match came from Woodburn, who announced his second-half arrival from the bench with a memorable goal on debut.

What they said

Wales manager Chris Coleman: "It is one of those nights to remember. It was a great way to win the game. Ben is young but we have seen enough. This is not a player we have just discovered, we have had him for some years.

"I had no worries about him at all. It wasn't just his goal, it was his all-round play, his intelligence. I am delighted for him.

"We are a couple of points back on the Republic and they have got to come to us. That is the last fixture here. But the biggest we've had in a long time is away to Moldova. We have to take care of our own business. Three games to go, anything can happen."

Wales goalscorer Ben Woodburn: "The ball just came out of the air and I just tried to shoot it as quickly as I could.

"It's a great feeling, I couldn't ask for much more from the fans. I won't sleep tonight."

Line-ups

Wales

  • 1Hennessey
  • 5ChesterBooked at 25mins
  • 6Williams
  • 4Davies
  • 2Gunter
  • 10Ramsey
  • 14Edwards
  • 3RichardsSubstituted forKingat 45'minutes
  • 11Bale
  • 7LawrenceSubstituted forWoodburnat 69'minutes
  • 18VokesSubstituted forRobson-Kanuat 69'minutes

Substitutes

  • 8King
  • 9Robson-Kanu
  • 12Davies
  • 13Evans
  • 15Ampadu
  • 16Ledley
  • 17Lockyer
  • 19Collins
  • 20Williams
  • 21Ward
  • 22Woodburn
  • 23Watkins

Austria

  • 1Lindner
  • 2Lainer
  • 3Dragovic
  • 15PrödlBooked at 25minsSubstituted forDansoat 27'minutes
  • 4Hinteregger
  • 14BaumgartlingerBooked at 83mins
  • 6Ilsanker
  • 9SabitzerSubstituted forGregoritschat 79'minutes
  • 8Alaba
  • 7Arnautovic
  • 11HarnikSubstituted forJankoat 81'minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Wöber
  • 10Schaub
  • 12Kuster
  • 13Bauer
  • 16Grillitsch
  • 17Kainz
  • 18Danso
  • 19Hierländer
  • 20Gregoritsch
  • 21Janko
  • 22Laimer
  • 23Bachmann
Referee:
Ovidiu Hategan
Attendance:
32,633

Match Stats

Home TeamWalesAway TeamAustria
Possession
Home48%
Away52%
Shots
Home16
Away10
Shots on Target
Home3
Away1
Corners
Home5
Away8
Fouls
Home14
Away22

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Wales 1, Austria 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Wales 1, Austria 0.

  3. Post update

    Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales) hits the right post with a left footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Ben Woodburn.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Wales. Conceded by Heinz Lindner.

  5. Post update

    Attempt saved. Gareth Bale (Wales) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner.

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Ben Woodburn.

  7. Post update

    Offside, Austria. Kevin Danso tries a through ball, but Marc Janko is caught offside.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Marc Janko (Austria).

  9. Post update

    Wayne Hennessey (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Attempt blocked. David Alaba (Austria) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Aleksandar Dragovic.

  11. Post update

    Marc Janko (Austria) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Ashley Williams (Wales).

  13. Post update

    Foul by Michael Gregoritsch (Austria).

  14. Post update

    David Edwards (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Michael Gregoritsch (Austria).

  16. Post update

    Chris Gunter (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Booking

    Julian Baumgartlinger (Austria) is shown the yellow card.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Aleksandar Dragovic (Austria).

  19. Post update

    Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  20. Post update

    Stefan Ilsanker (Austria) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Comments

Join the conversation

These comments are now closed.

173 comments

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1France75111551016
2Sweden7412147713
3Bulgaria74031214-212
4Netherlands73131310310
5Belarus7124412-85
6Luxembourg7115717-104

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Switzerland77001531221
2Portugal76012742318
3Hungary7313118310
4Faroe Islands7124315-125
5Andorra7115216-144
6Latvia7106315-123

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany77002922721
2Northern Ireland75111421216
3Czech Rep723210739
4Norway7214810-27
5Azerbaijan7214311-87
6San Marino7007133-320

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Serbia7430167915
2R. of Ireland734095413
3Wales7250105511
4Austria72239908
5Georgia7043711-44
6Moldova7025418-142

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Poland75111511416
2Montenegro74121771013
3Denmark7412146813
4Romania72328719
5Armenia7205715-86
6Kazakhstan7025419-152

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1England75201421217
2Slovakia7502134915
3Scotland73221210211
4Slovenia732264211
5Lithuania7124614-85
6Malta7007219-170

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Spain76102432119
2Italy75111871116
3Albania740398112
4Israel7304913-49
5North Macedonia7205913-46
6Liechtenstein7007126-250

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belgium76103323119
2Greece7340103713
3Bos-Herze7322158711
4Cyprus7313811-310
5Estonia7124517-125
6Gibraltar7007333-300

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Ukraine7421115614
2Croatia6411112913
3Iceland741297213
4Turkey7322118311
5Finland7115510-54
6Kosovo6015318-151
View full World Cup Qualifying - European tables

Top Stories

Explore the BBC