Three late goals gave England a deserved win over Austria - watch the highlights here.
England 4-0 Austria
World Cup Qualifying Group 5
Thursday 20 April 2006
Three goals in the last five minutes gave England the win they deserved after a testing evening in Kent.
With a 1-0 lead at half-time, thanks to an Austrian own-goal, it looked to be all Hope Powell’s team would take away with them. But the luck finally went England’s way in the closing stages as goals from Fara Williams and the two subsitutes Sue Smith and Jody Handley lifted them four points clear at the top of Group 5.
An enthusiastic crowd of just over 8,000 was out in force at the Priestfield Stadium to spur England on as they looked to take the initiative in the qualifying, and they no doubt played a part as the team kept searching for goals right to the very end.
Arsenal’s Kelly Smith was, once again, the pivotal figure around whom most of England’s play was centred, and it was obvious from the start that Austria had pinpointed her as a threat, rarely leaving her unaccompanied.
It took England a little time to get going, settling into a vital game against a busy Austria side. A half chance for Amanda on ten minutes, following great work from Smith on the left, was snuffed out by a last-gasp challenge from the captain Sonja Spieler.
Barr then returned the favour shortly after, crossing well for Smith, but this time Susanna Gahleitner rose to head away. Katie Chapman’s follow up on the edge of the box was rushed under pressure and was always going over.
Karen Carney latched onto a 23rd minute Mary Phillip ball forward, but never really had control as she headed through one on one. Bianca Reischer was quick and brave to block with her legs and clear to safety.
Chances kept coming for the Three Lions, but fortune continued to favour the visitors. Barr fired over from the corner of the six yard box then on 28 minutes Smith sent a shot over the bar when she should really have found the net.
The Arsenal star had a chance to redeem herself seconds later. A turn inside the area, holding off her marker set up the space for an arrowed shot across goal, but it missed the right-hand post by the smallest of margins.
The pressure was about to pay, but the breakthrough came from an unlikely source.
First Carney crossed to Yankey waiting at the far post. She opted for the side foot, when perhaps a header was the best choice, and the ball trickled into Reischer’s hands.
If Yankey had applied to that chance the venom of her next try, England would surely have been in front.
Then, from a free-kick on the right following a foul on Smith, Yankey whipped in a shot which was acrobatically punched away from goal. The resulting corner, with 36 minutes gone, delivered again by the Arsenal winger, bounced dangerously inside the six yard box, ricocheting off Spieler and across the line.
The Austrian’s lunge to prevent the inevitable only helped seal the end result as the ball smashed against the bar and into the welcoming net.
On the stroke of half-time, the crowd would have loved to see Fara Williams’ turn and volley drop between the sticks for the skill factor alone, but the ball fell the wrong side of the post.
Despite the boost of the goal, the Austrians held strong, sometimes fortuitously, and England were left scratching their heads as they sought more for the ‘goals for’ column.
Carney saw her goal six minutes after the turn around chalked off, the Birmingham winger adjudged to have handled as she controlled the ball.
Then, first Rachel Unitt on 58 and Williams six minutes later, had efforts cleared from the line. Another day they might have both gone in.
But England’s persistence was soon to be rewarded and the three points – and four goals - would be added to their qualifying group tally.
With five minutes remaining, Sue Smith entered the fray replacing Yankey and within seconds victory was in the bag.
Kelly Smith, this time jinking in on the right-hand side, evaded two challenges along the bye-line before pulling back to Williams who tucked home well.
Two minutes later Sue Smith was the recipient of a glorious cross-field delivery from Lindsay Johnson and with time to consider her move, applied the perfect header from 15 yards, curling around the dive of Reischer and into the corner of the net.
With literally the last kick of the game, when three looked to be it, Jody Handley, another second-half sub, sneaked on to a poor Spieler back pass to slip beyond the keeper.
Rachel Brown, Lindsay Johnson, Rachel Unitt, Katie Chapman, Faye White (c), Mary Phillip, Karen Carney, Fara Williams, Amanda Barr (Jody Handley, 59), Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey (Sue Smith, 84)
Subs: Anita Asante, Siobhan Chamberlain, Alex Scott, Vicky Exley, Jody Handley, Josanne Potter
Bianca Reischer, Sonja Spieler (c), Katrin Walzl (Maria Gstottner, 78), Natascha Celouch, Nina Aigner, Marlies Hanschitz, Birgitt Hufnagl, Susanne Just, Melanie Fischer (Susanna Maria Koch, 89), Susanna Gahleitner, Nina Burger
Subs: Alexandra Pichler, Katharina Pregartbauer, Isabel Hochstoger
Referee: Snjezana Focic (Croatia)
Assistants: Blazenka Logarusic (Croatia) and Lidija Kraljic (Croatia)
Fourth Official: Sian Massey