🏆 FIH World Cup Qualifiers : Austria men's team beat Ireland to finish third at the European World Cup qualification
Photo Credit : Irfon Bennett / Austria Hockey

Austria (# 19 WR) vs. Ireland (# 14 WR) – the game of the losers in the battle for the 2 World Cup tickets at the European Qualifier. Still an important game that brings a lot of points in the world rankings – especially if a team wins that is not well ranked.

Austria has been under constant pressure from the start – Ireland is very high and attacks early on. But Austria is solving the situation well. On the defensive, Austria is again very compact and focused – Ireland can hardly find a meaningful way forward. In possession of the ball, every player is immediately involved in tackles, but the Austrians can often prevail. A high percentage of good forward attacks go through Fabian Unterkircher.

In the 11th minute, Niko Wellan is spot on with a long ball and makes it 1-0 for Austria. This is how the first quarter ends – Ireland has more possession of the ball, but the goal is on the Austrian account.

In the second quarter, too, Ireland sticks to the early pressing. There are again many duels in half of the Austrians and the defense is working hard. Sometimes you try to overcome the offensive ranks of the Irish with high balls, but many of these balls land primarily with the opponent and then have to be laboriously recaptured.

Relief attacks run over and over again via Fabian Unterkircher and it is also he who comes into the circle of fire in the 29th minute on the left side and brings the ball towards the goal with the Argentine backhand – hardly to see whether the ball is deflected by Moritz Frey , no matter, the ball lands in the goal and it is 2-0 for Austria. Unterkircher is named as a goalscorer.

After the second half, Austria is fighting for control of the game. Unfortunately, this also manifests itself in two yellow cards and an associated outnumbered game that costs the remaining players a lot of strength. In minute 33, John Mc Kee uses this slight lack of concentration and brings the Irish closer to 2: 1. In this phase Austria loses the ball too often and too quickly, especially in their own possession. In the 44th minute, it is again John McKee who equalizes the Irish. An unfortunate move that could have been cleared before the goal line, but the ball rolls over the line.

The last quarter starts with 2: 2. As soon as Austria is complete again, Michi Körper is punished 12 minutes before the end with the next yellow card, which means a shortfall for the next 10 minutes. For an unrecognizable reason, a referee’s penalty corner is also imposed. But Mateusz Szymczyk proves to be a strong support together with his corner defenders. The corner and 3 following corners can be defused together. Austria’s team fights doggedly for every ball. But in the 54th minute there is another penalty corner for Ireland. Duncan gets the bouncing ball under control the quickest and converts it to 2: 3 for Ireland.

Austria is not giving up. They get the last reserves out of their bodies and start an attack on the right flank into the firing circle and from somewhere Oli Binder suddenly appears next to the goal post and uses the ball to make it 3: 3. In the end, Austria gets the most out of its chances and fights for the penalty shoot-out.

Unterkircher, Fröhlich, Losonci and body transform – Mateusz Szymczyk holds 2 x – the winner is Austria!

A defensively strong game of the Austrians, who keep their nerve until the end and give themselves a hard-fought victory against the number 14 in the world. A great 3rd place at the European qualifying tournament for the 2023 World Cup (India), with a slightly bitter aftertaste that the ticket was missed for a place.

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