Rubin Okotie was Austria's match winner for the second game running as
they beat their second-placed rivals to cement top spot in Group G.
Viktor Fayzulin of Russia in action with Marc Janko (right)
of Austria / AFP/Getty Images
Austria put clear daylight between themselves and Russia in UEFA EURO
2016 qualifying Group G after Rubin Okotie's 73rd-minute goal made the
difference at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion.
The Austrians, defending a two-point lead in this Group G summit meeting
in Vienna, initially showed the greater attacking intent yet the first
threat to either goal was Aleksandr Kokorin's 15th-minute shot from outside
the box which struck Robert Almer's left-hand upright. Villarreal CF winger
Denis Cheryshev, the only expatriate among Fabio Capello's starters, then
blazed wide when well placed.
Marcel Koller had recalled Marc Janko from suspension in place of Rubin
Okotie, whose match winner against Montenegro in October had put the Austrians
top of the group. It was Martin Harnik, though, who caused the danger
to Igor Akinfeev's goal, first eliciting a stop from the keeper, then
cushioning a header towards Janko who was unable to convert.
With half-time imminent, Almer parried Sergei Ignashevich's header from
a Dmitri Kombarov corner as the composed Russians served notice of their
potency. Kokorin reiterated the point soon after the restart, glancing
Kombarov's cross wide, though Marko Arnautovic might have done better
for the hosts from Christian Fuch's cutback.
Arnautovic eventually did deliver by winning and taking a free-kick which,
via flicks from Harnik and Martin Hinteregger, Okotie looked poised to
turn past Akinfeev; yet with play continuing after the keeper's save,
possession was immediately recycled by Koller's men and substitute Okotie
turned in Harnik's right-wing centre from close range. It was enough for
Austria, without the injured David Alaba, to reinforce their bid for a
first-ever UEFA European Championship qualification.