Austria march on as Okotie fells Russia
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Austria 1-0 Russia
Rubin Okotie was Austria's match winner for the second game running as they beat their second-placed rivals to cement top spot in Group G.
Article top media content
• Austria move four points clear at top of Group G
• Three wins out of four for Marcel Koller's undefeated side but Russia's unbeaten run ends
• TSV 1860 München's Rubin Okotie comes off bench to reprise match-winning role
• Hosts make light of David Alaba absence to strengthen claim to first-ever EURO qualification
• Next games: Liechtenstein v Austria, Montenegro v Russia (27 March)
Austria put clear daylight between themselves and Russia in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group G after Rubin Okotie's 73rd-minute goal made the difference at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion.
The Austrians, defending a two-point lead in this Group G summit meeting in Vienna, initially showed the greater attacking intent yet the first threat to either goal was Aleksandr Kokorin's 15th-minute shot from outside the box which struck Robert Almer's left-hand upright. Villarreal CF winger Denis Cheryshev, the only expatriate among Fabio Capello's starters, then blazed wide when well placed.
Marcel Koller had recalled Marc Janko from suspension in place of Rubin Okotie, whose match winner against Montenegro in October had put the Austrians top of the group. It was Martin Harnik, though, who caused the danger to Igor Akinfeev's goal, first eliciting a stop from the keeper, then cushioning a header towards Janko who was unable to convert.
With half-time imminent, Almer parried Sergei Ignashevich's header from a Dmitri Kombarov corner as the composed Russians served notice of their potency. Kokorin reiterated the point soon after the restart, glancing Kombarov's cross wide, though Marko Arnautovic might have done better for the hosts from Christian Fuch's cutback.
Arnautovic eventually did deliver by winning and taking a free-kick which, via flicks from Harnik and Martin Hinteregger, Okotie looked poised to turn past Akinfeev; yet with play continuing after the keeper's save, possession was immediately recycled by Koller's men and substitute Okotie turned in Harnik's right-wing centre from close range. It was enough for Austria, without the injured David Alaba, to reinforce their bid for a first-ever UEFA European Championship qualification.