Austria: Wolfahrt; Hatz, Stranzl (Hortnagl 44'),
Hiden, Baur; Herzog, Kühbauer (Schopp 75'), Cerny, Flögel; Kocijan
(Hitzbichler 55'), Maryleb. 4-4-2.
Spain: Casillas; Manuel Pablo, Abelardo, Hierro, Sergi; Mendieta, Iván Helguera, Baraja, Víctor (Rufete 46'); Raúl (Guerrero 88'), Urzaiz (Catanha 60'). 4-4-2.
1-0. 21. Baur. Touched Herzog's corner on past Casillas and Manuel Pablo.
1-1. 27. Baraja. Came in unmarked to head Mendieta's corner past keeper.
Hello, Borja back again reporting on our Spanish national team. Well, as you can see from the above caption, my friend Goran Arsic has been appointed full international correspondent of Soccer-Spain. This is because of his in-depth technical knowledge of Eastern European football, specialising in the Balkans and his beloved Croatia, his passionate and incisive writing abilities, and also because he works for peanuts (mainly the last one). Spain moved on to Vienna after their victory against Israel at the weekend, and after reluctantly agreeing with Goran that we would pay his travel and meal expenses off we went to the match.
One 150 Peseta bus ride and a bag of crisps later we arrive at my auntie's flat in Barcelona. "I thought we were going to Austria" complained Goran. "Whoever told you that", I say. "Anyway, we've brought Austria here, so put on that pair of lederhosen and get yourself a bottle of pils from the crate". "Now your talking" says Goran, and we settle down in front of the television for the kick-off. Camacho has kept virtually the same side for this one, with only two changes from Saturday's side, Baraja making his first start for his country in place of the injured Gerard, and Víctor coming in on the left for Munitis. Apart from Kuhbauer, who played at Real Sociedad last season, the only thing we know about Austria is that we beat them 9-0 and 1-3 in the Euro 2000 qualifying games last year. Wohlfahrt, the goalkeeper from that nine goal hammering is back, but he is clearly nervous as, when Raúl nods at him in greeting, the keeper dives through a nearby shop window.
This is a different Austria from that time though, clearly determined not to be ridiculed again by the Spaniards. Casillas got off to a shaky start in goal, failing to hold on to a low shot by Cerny early on, and a few minutes later Austria took the lead with a goal that should never have happened. Herzog took a low curling corner from the right, and Manuel Pablo on the near post and Casillas hesitated as Baur got the faintest of touches to steer the ball between the two. Six minutes later though, Spain were level, with Baraja running in unmarked from the edge of the area to head Mendieta's corner past Wohlfahrt. We leap to our feet in relief, and Goran goes to the fridge to get a couple more bottles of pils. Maybe the beer is stronger than we thought, but we are getting a bit confused with the television coverage, as the Spanish pictures fail and they switch to the Austrian cameras which are obviously set up on the other side of the pitch.
At half time Camacho takes off Víctor, out of position on the left, and brings on Rufete. The Spanish pictures are back, and Goran is convinced that we are still in the first half until I show him my watch. Spain are playing better but the Austrians are going in hard, with the Russian referee Ivanov being very lenient on the tackles. Mendieta and Raúl in particular are being closely marked, at times by two men, but that leaves Baraja free and he almost gets his second after Sergi broke free on the left, his first header being tipped onto the bar by Wohlfart and his follow up header also bouncing off the woodwork. Now it's Austria's turn, and Casillas makes up for his earlier mistakes with a brilliant stop from Maryleb. Catanha comes on for an off-form Urzaiz and sends a header just wide, and Casillas and Hierro keep out the assault at the other end. Raúl has been unusually quiet, not even getting one shot at goal, and Camacho replaces him with Julen Guerrero near the end to secure the result.
The final whistle goes and we are happy to see it end. The Austrians were getting dangerously close in the last few minutes, and a draw away from home is a good result on top of the two victories. Spain now lead the group with seven points from three games, with Israel on six, Austria on four and Bosnia and Liechtenstein on zero. There is now a long lay off before the next match against Liechtenstein at home in March, with a couple of friendlies against Holland and England in between. It's time to go off and write our report. "Come on Goran!". But Goran is currently enjoying himself playing hands-knees-and-bumps-a-daisy in his lederhosen with my auntie, and there's no way I can prise him away. Oh well, I suppose I'll have to write it myself then. Hello, Borja Pantzov again (go to beginning)....