Goals from Christoph Saurer and Florian Klein gave Austria a narrow lead in their play-off against Finland for a place in the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, but Perparim Hetemaj's crucial away goal leaves the visiting side with plenty of hope ahead of the second leg in Turku on Tuesday.
Austria got off to a brilliant start at the Waldstadion and went ahead with ten minutes played when Saurer headed in Veli Kavlak's cross. Three minutes later, Saurer's LASK Linz team-mate Klein pounced on an error in the Finnish defence and drove the ball into the left corner to make it 2-0. Austria were dominant and moments later Saurer came close with a shot that flew narrowly over the crossbar.
With confidence flowing Austria pushed forward and forced Finland into a number of errors, their pressing resulting in further chances for Manfred Zsak's side. In the 24th minute Marco Stankovic left his marker Ville Jalasto standing but his effort failed to test Finland keeper Tomi Maanoja and both Niklas Hoheneder and Klein missed further opportunities to increase Austria's advantage before the break.
Finland hit back
The second half picked up where the first had left off. Rubin Okotie was thwarted by Maanoja after a strong solo run in the 52nd minute as Austria looked for more. Surprisingly, though, the next goal went Finland's way, with Markku Kanerva's men grabbing a lifeline in the 63rd minute with their first real attempt on goal. Totally unchallenged, Perparim Hetemaj was given time and space to curl the ball around home keeper Robert Olejnik from 18 metres to reduce the deficit. The tempo remained high until the end but there were no more goals, leaving the tie evening poised ahead of the second leg in Turku on 14 October.