Late Slaninka strike gives Slovakia debut win

Slovakia 1-0 Austria
Substitute Martin Slaninka scored in added time at the end of the game to give the hosts a 1-0 victory on their UEFA European Under-17 Championship debut.

Slovakia celebrate winning their opening game of the tournament
Slovakia celebrate winning their opening game of the tournament ©Sportsfile

Slovakia coach Ladislav Pecko had promised his team had learned the lessons of a defeat to their neighbours in a friendly last August, and that claim was backed up as they edged out Austria 1-0 at the MFK Dubnica Stadium.

The hosts created the better opportunities and tested the woodwork, but looked poised to harbour a host of regrets until Martin Slaninka struck from close range to leave Pecko's squad in an optimal position ahead of Wednesday's encounter with Switzerland. Austria, who had substitute Thomas Steiner sent off for a second bookable offence three minutes from time, will be hoping for a much-improved display when they face Sweden.

Debutants they may have been, but there was no stage fright from the hosts. Lukáš Haraslín's wicked set-piece delivery posed Austria more than one scare, none more so than when Atila Varga rose to meet one of his captain's free-kicks. The Juventus defender's header passed within a whisker of the left-hand upright. Tomáš Vestenický almost squeezed a dipping volley inside the same post, but Alexander Schlager's fingertips pushed his effort off the woodwork. 

The 'oohs' from the crowd were provoked partly by disappointment and partly by relief, with a sizeable contingent of Austria fans having crossed the border to support their country. A Valentino Lazaro drive, which flew through a crowd, brought the visiting fans to their feet, but Martin Junas' excellent stop meant they soon regained their seats.

Daniel Ripic's half-time introduction gave Austria the physical presence in attack they had lacked, and Hermann Stadler's tinkering would have looked a masterstroke had the substitute scored and not fired over from Sascha Horvath's tailor-made cross.

That opportunity would prove Austria's best as Slovakia dominated, but Pecko's side could not capitalise and after Steiner's dismissal, Ripic might have snatched it had Junas not blocked well with his feet. Instead, substitute Lukáš Čmelík burst down the right, and his low cross was swept in by Slaninka.