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Baumgartner seizing second U17 EURO chance

A month and a half ago, Christoph Baumgartner was resigned to missing the finals in Azerbaijan with a serious hamstring injury – on Thursday, he fired Austria to victory in their opener.

Christoph Baumgartner led the way for Austria in their first Group A match
Christoph Baumgartner led the way for Austria in their first Group A match ©Sportsfile

A two-goal performance in a major age-group tournament will live long in the memory of any player, but for Austria's Christoph Baumgartner the blistering start he made to the 2016 UEFA European Under-17 Championship is particularly sweet.

It would be safe to say that the St Pölten midfielder is simply glad to be here in Azerbaijan. Baumgartner was key to Andreas Heraf's side winning their qualifying round section in October, registering the decisive goal in a 2-1 defeat of Luxembourg, and was set for a starring role in Austria's elite round campaign in France at the beginning of April until disaster struck.

©Sportsfile

The 16-year-old suffered a hamstring injury that Heraf thought would rule the No10 out of the finals in Baku. Fast-forward six weeks, though, and, after a rapid recovery, Baumgartner was all smiles following his clinical display of finishing in Austria's 2-0 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina on Thursday. Not bad for someone who, by their own admission, is far from full fitness.

"It's difficult to express my feelings right now, it's unbelievable," Baumgartner told UEFA.com. "I only trained for a week [before the finals], so therefore I'm not 100%, but things worked out really well and I'm very happy. You can't score without your team-mates, that's impossible. My second goal came from a great pass by my friend, Romano Schmid."

In a bid to accelerate Baumgartner's recovery, Heraf dialled up a contact from his playing days. "We were expecting him to have to rest for two to three months," he said. "However, I sent him to a guy, a friend of mine, who got me ready for the 1998 World Cup in France and he said: 'Christoph will do it.' The therapist and Christoph worked really hard so I'm happy he's here and won the game for us."

©Sportsfile