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Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage of Ireland’s final match of 2016, as Martin O’Neill’s side travel to Vienna to take on Austria in a crucial World Cup qualifier.

Ben Blake is in the Ernst-Happel-Stadion for us, while I’ll be providing live updates of all the action from base throughout the evening.

We will provide with the team news as soon as we have it, but Ireland are without a host of key players this evening including Cyrus Christie, Stephen Ward, James McCarthy, Stephen Quinn, Daryl Murphy, Shane Long.

Goals may be one of the biggest concerns for Ireland at the moment, but the Boys in Green have failed to score in just one of their last 19 matches – the Euro 2016 match against Belgium.

Ireland’s record against Austria is poor.

We are without a win against our hosts in eight matches, drawing two and losing six. The last win coming in a 3-2 victory in Dublin in 1963.

That will change tonight, right?

Just over an hour until the 5pm kick-off, so we have plenty of pre-match reading to keep you entertained.

The team is in!

Three changes to the side that beat Moldova last month.

Arter makes his first competitive appearance, Hendrick returns from suspension and Brady comes back in after sustaining a head injury against Georgia. The injured trio Ward, McCarthy and Long all miss out.

Ireland team latest

It looks like a 4-2-3-1 formation for Ireland:

Randolph; Coleman, Clark, Duffy, Brady; Arter, Whelan; Hendrick, Hoolahan, McClean; Walters.

Unfortunately for Dundalk’s Andy Boyle and Aberdeen duo Jonny Hayes and Adam Rooney as well as Birmingham’s Stephen Gleeson, they fail to make the bench. Boyle’s teammate Daryl Horgan is there, however.

Will he get on?

Here is how Austria will line up.

Premier League duo Wimmer (Spurs) and Arnautovic (Stoke) start for the home side.

First-choice goalkeeper Almer, defender Prodl and playmaker Junuzovic were ruled out of this crunch qualifier, earlier this week.

Austria team

Here is how Group D looks ahead of the latest round of games:

Group D latest

In the other matches in the group today, Wales host Serbia and Moldova travel to Georgia.

Right, we’re almost ready to go. Hit us up with your predictions – will it be all three points or would you settle for a draw?

The overwhelming feeling on the RTÉ panel is that a draw would be a great result. The teams are taking to the field.

Amhrán na bhFiann warmly received in Vienna. Now, the turn of Austria.

Formalities are about to be completed. Kick-off moments away!

NERVY! An early ball across the goal from Arnautovic is cleared for a corner by Brady.

The resulting set-piece is finally cleared by Ireland, after some less than convincing defending. Austria on top in the early exchanges.


WIDE! More worrying signs for Ireland.

Arnautovic drives through the Irish defence, Clark however gets a toe to the ball before the Stoke man can get his shot off. The ball lands to Sabitzer on the edge of the box, but his attempt goes well wide of the Ireland goal.


It looks like a diamond formation for Ireland in the early stages here.

Whelan is at the base of the midfield four, Hendrick to the right, Arter to the left and Hoolahan at the top. McClean is in the forward position with Walters.


SAVE! Janko’s low attempt from an Austria corner is easily gathered by Randolph.

Lots of bodies in the way, any touch and Ireland would have been in trouble.


A floated free-kick from Alaba into the Ireland box is confidently gathered by Randolph. Good intensity to the game, so far.


SHOT! A deflected James McClean attempt goes narrowly wide, after good play from Hoolahan and Arter sees the ball land to the Derryman at the edge of the box.

Ireland’s first encouraging moment.

The resulting corner, however, comes to nothing.


SAVE! Good link-up play for Austria but Janko’s header in the box is straight at Randolph.

Alaba and Arnautovic work the ball well on the left flank, with the ball floated to the head of the a 6ft 5ins striker, but the lack of power in the header makes it a comfortable save for the Ireland goalkeeper.


SUB: An injury for Glenn Whelan means Hull’s David Meyler comes on for his 18th cap.


OVER! A lofted pass from Alaba is only half-cleared by Duffy, and the ball falls kindly to Janko, but his effort goes well over the crossbar,


For the moment, McClean has switched positions with Hoolahan. The Norwich midfielder playing more centrally, with the Derryman moving to the left.


CHANCE! A teasing free-kick from Brady falls to the head of Duffy, but the defender directs his header just wide of the post from six yards out.


BLOCK! Brilliant last-gasp defending from Coleman in the box, as the Ireland captain manages to prevent Arnautovic from getting his shot away, with the Stoke man through on goal.


Arnautovic has been one of Austria’s biggest threats, so far:

Soccer WCup 2018 Austria Ireland Source: Ronald Zak


SAVE! A long-range from Schopf is straight down the throat of Randolph. We’d take those attempts all night.


CHANCE! Wow, what a period of play.

Ireland are very lucky not to be behind here after Sabitzer’s lob over Randolph from an acute angle hits the woodwork.

Defender Dragovic is given time and space to carry the ball deep into the Irish half, he passes to Arnautovic, who in turn plays a through ball to Sabitzer, and the RB Leipzig forward will consider himself unlucky that he didn’t break the deadlock.

The ball is ultimately scrambled cleared by Ireland.


CHANCE! What a glorious opportunity for Ireland.

Walters will be kicking himself that he didn’t give Ireland the lead going into the break, after being second-best for most of this match.

Hoolahan and Brady combine brilliantly down the left side, and Brady’s floats in a ball into the path of Walters that is just begging to be put in the back of the net, but from 4 yards out in front of the goal, the Stoke man puts it over the bar.


The whistle blows and despite that miss just before half-time Ireland will be the happier of the two sides. All to play for in the second-half.


HT: Georgia 1-0 Moldova 

Kazaishvili has given Georgia the lead against Moldova in the other match taking place right now in Group D.


Safe to say, Walters knows more than anybody, that he should have scored. Second-half is about to begin.

Austria v Republic of Ireland - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group D - Ernst-Happel-Stadion Source: John Walton


Devastating and clinical from Ireland – the Boys in Green take the lead!

Meyler breaks up an Austria attack and finds Hoolahan on the halfway line, a beautifully weighted pass from Wes picks out McClean, who then cuts inside to fire a tremendous shot past the Austrian goalkeeper Ozcan from a tight angle.

What a goal!


OFFSIDE! Another tasty Brady free-kick finds the head of Walters, but the striker was rightly adjudged to be in an offside position after putting the ball in the back of the net.


YELLOW CARD! Dragovic is booked for holding Clark’s jersey before an Ireland corner.


WIDE! McClean’s effort hits the side netting after the West Brom winger showed some nice footwork in the Austria box.


What a couple of weeks this man has had in the green jersey:

James McClean celebrates scoring the opening goal of the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


SUB: First change for the home side as Schopf is replaced by Schaub.


OFF THE LINE! From a Brady corner, Clark chests the ball goalwards but it is cleared by the man on the post.


SAVE! Randolph, rather unconventionally, parries away Schaub’s shot from the edge of the box, but the ball is then scrambled clear.

Moments later a free-kick from Alaba, from 25 yards, fails to trouble the West Ham stopper.


OVER! Alaba’s swerving shot from the best part of 30 yards hits the top of the net.

Randolph and Ireland breathe a sigh of relief.


A goal made in the League of Ireland.

Cork City’s Meyler passing to Shelbourne’s Hoolahan before Derry City’s McClean blasted the ball home.

Soccer WCup 2018 Austria Ireland Source: Ronald Zak


A second goal would do nicely, wouldn’t it? But we don’t watch Ireland to relax.


YELLOW CARD: Brilliant dogged defending from Arter. He has hustling the Austria midfielders all night, Baumgartlinger doesn’t like it and the ref shows him a yellow for dissent.


YELLOW CARD: Brady’s second booking of the campaign sees him miss the Wales match in March, after the left-back kicked the ball away in frustration.


Austria should be down to 10 men here.

Baumgartlinger is a lucky boy not to see another yellow card, this time for a hacked challenge on Hoolahan.


SUB: Second change for Austria as Harnikat replaces Sabitzer.


SUB: Second change for Austria as Harnikat replaces Sabitzer.

ONE SUB APEICE: McGoldrick takes the place of Hoolahan for Ireland, while Ilsanker is on for Wimmer in Austria’s final change.


A superb run from McClean sees him travel 60 yards up the pitch with the winger leaving two Austria players behind, but the 27-year-old couldn’t beat the final defender with Walters and McGoldrick waiting in the box.


6 minutes to hold on for Ireland. But the Boys in Green are by no means parking the bus.


SUB: Final change for Ireland as the injured McClean is replaced by McGeady. No debut for Horgan tonight.


CHANCE! Austria’s best opportunity in the second-half and they should really have equalised.

Janko pulls free of Coleman at the far post, and finds himself with a free header from a floating cross, but the tall striker somehow directs his attempt well wide of the Irish goal.

Coleman was the wrong side, and would be thankful that Randolph was untroubled.


SAVE! Phew! A deflected effort from Dragovic from the edge of the box, falls into the grateful grasp of Randolph.

Backs against the wall now.


We’re into the first minute of four added minutes. What a big win this would be.


1 minute to go.


WIDE! Janko from three yards out somehow heads wide, with the goal gaping. After Ireland tried to, by all their means, prevent Austria from a cross into the Irish box.

Janko has had a nightmare, but no complaints here.

Flag 90Mins

FT: Austria 0-1 Ireland 

History for Ireland! First-ever win in Austria for the Boys in Green.

No doubt we’ll be looking back on this result, should Ireland make the finals in Russia in 2018. Ireland go clear at the top of Group D, before Wales take on Serbia tonight, but Ireland go into the start of 2017, five points clear of Austria.

Thank you for enjoying us tonight, we’ll have reaction throughout the night.

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