SWEDEN, Sept 9, 2015:
Austria will appear at only their second European Championships finals after their 4-1 thrashing of Sweden secured their place at next year’s finals in France on Tuesday in Solna.
Swiss coach and former international midfielder Marcel Koller guided the Austrians to a place in France after their maiden appearance at the final stages in 2008 when they automatically qualified as co-hosts with Switzerland.
Bayern Munich’s David Alaba, the youngest player to ever play for Austria at 17 in 2009, scored from the penalty spot after just nine minutes before West German-born Martin Harnik plundered his 12th international goal, seven minutes before half-time with a header, to give the visitors a cushion.
Veteran Basel striker Marc Janko, 34, then put the icing on the cake and started the early celebrations with Austria’s third on 79 minutes before Harnik grabbed his second of the night with two minutes remaining to add insult to injury for the Swedes.
Austrian goalkeeper Robert Almer turned in a brilliant performance to keep Sweden at bay who were able to field star Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who scored a late consolation goal in vain for the well-beaten hosts.
Since taking over in November 2011, Koller has lost just eight matches in 32 games for the fast improving Austrians.
Despite their lack of success in European Championships, Austria have appeared at seven World Cups, the most recent being in 1998, while their best showing was finishing third in 1954.
Sweden lost for the second straight match, after crashing 1-0 against Russia on Saturday, while their hosts that day in Moscow dispatched Liechtenstein 7-0 on Tuesday to move into the second qualifying spot, two points in front of the Scandinavians, in Group G.
In the pool’s third match Montenegro won 2-0 on the road at Moldova as they climb within a point of Sweden and a potential place in the play-offs with two matches to play.