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Last-gasp goals delight Austria

Austria 2-0 Kazakhstan
Roland Linz and substitute Erwin Hoffer scored in added time to give Austria a dramatic winning start to Group A.

Erwin Hoffer clinched victory late on for Austria
Erwin Hoffer clinched victory late on for Austria ©AFP

Two goals in added time gave Austria a dramatic winning start to UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group A.

Kazakhstan were hoping to improve upon their 3-0 home defeat by Turkey on Friday and when the regulation 90 minutes were up it seemed as if they were set to hold the UEFA EURO 2008 co-hosts. Instead, Roland Linz and substitute Erwin Hoffer struck last-gasp efforts to send the Salzburg Arena crowd home happy.

Austria enjoyed a great chance to take the lead as early as the third minute when Martin Harnik pounced on a defensive slip, but the VfB Stuttgart striker could not find the target from 12 metres out. Ten minutes later, Harnik was in position again, clear through following a solo run, only for goalkeeper Andrei Sidelnikov to produce a block. The home side were dominating proceedings, but as half-time beckoned Kazakhstan began to deny them shots on goal.

The second period began in much the same vein, with Austria unable to fashion clear opportunities. Ekrem Dağ fired wide after 55 minutes, and midway through the half Kazakhstan substitute Sergei Khizhnichenko forced Austria goalkeeper Jürgen Macho into action from inside the box.

Time was running out for Austria and Kazakhstan slowly began to enjoy space to counterattack, but it was the home side who were celebrating after 91 minutes when Linz found the target. Seconds later, Hoffer confirmed the victory. The victors will next be in action against Azerbaijan in Vienna on 8 October, when Kazakhstan are due to entertain Belgium.