Euro 2008 – Vastic spares wasteful Austria
An injury-time penalty from Ivica Vastic earned co-hosts Austria a 1-1 draw against Poland at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna that keeps their hopes of progressing to the Euro 2008 knockout stages alive.
Naturalised Brazilian midfielder Roger Guerreiro put Poland ahead from close range in the first half after Austria had spurned a series of golden opportunities to take the lead.
Poland looked the more likely scorers for the majority of the second half, until English referee Howard Webb spotted an infringement in the Polish penalty area in injury time and the 37-year-old Vastic fired home from the spot.
The result ensured Croatia’s progress to the last eight as Group B winners following their 2-1 win over Germany, and means Austria and Poland will both go into their last games needing to win to stand any chance of progressing.
Both sides made three changes to their starting line-ups in the wake of opening day defeats, with Poland handing a start to Roger and Southampton striker Marek Saganowski while Austria gave Umit Korkmaz a place in the starting XI after he impressed from the bench in the 1-0 defeat to Croatia.
Roared on by a raucous home crowd, Austria took the game to their opponents from the off but spurned three gilt-edged chances inside the space of five first-half minutes.
20-year-old Werder Bremen striker Martin Harnik missed the first two. On 11 minutes he seized on a loose pass from Marcin Wasilewski but saw his shot deflected wide of the right-hand post by Poland goalkeeper Artur Boruc, before a close-range effort from Korkmaz’s left-wing cross was blocked by Boruc’s legs.
Moments later Christoph Leitgeb got away from the Polish defence, but with time to pick his spot he too allowed Boruc to save.
Boruc came to the rescue again 10 minutes later when Austrian right-back Gyorgy Garics got round the back off the Polish defence, and having withstood the early storm Poland took the lead with their first attack of note after half an hour.
Ebi Smolarek picked out Saganowski at the back post with a cross from the left, and when Austria goalkeeper Jurgen Macho could only get a hand to Saganowski’s shot, Roger was on hand to tap home from three yards to claim his first goal for his adopted country despite appearing to be offside.
Smolarek tested Macho with a left-footed effort five minutes into the second half after being found by Roger, while Macho produced another good save to block Jacek Bak‘s back-post half-volley with just under half an hour to play.
Macho was then called upon to tip over a ferocious left-footed free-kick from the tireless Jacek Krzynowek as Poland grew in confidence, and an equaliser looked a distinct unlikelihood until Mariusz Lewandowski was penalised for tugging Sebastian Prodl’s shirt inside the box and Vastic kept his cool to drill the penalty to Boruc’s right and seal a dramatic draw.