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Wales 0 Austria 0
Wales ended their Euro 2017 qualifying campaign when they battled out a goalless draw with Austria at Rodney Parade.
There was joy unconfined for the Austrians on the final whistle as they wildly celebrated qualifying for the Finals for the first time after a close game between two very evenly matched teams who largely cancelled themselves out for most of the match.
The pattern of the match was established right from the start as the two teams fought hard for possession but found it hard to break down two well organised defences. The best opportunity in the opening fifteen minutes came following a good move, when Carina Wenninger drove a shot just wide of the far post.
Wales were awarded a free kick when Manuela Zinsberger was penalised for handball outside of her area but Jessica Fishlock's resulting shot was well saved low down by the Austrian keeper. The home side were to come closest just before the half hour as Kayleigh Green did well to burst into the area and shrug off the attentions of Viktoria Schnaderbeck and finding Natasha Harding who swept her shot inches wide under pressure from Katharina Schiechtl.
The game opened up more in the second half with Helen Ward and Harding both firing efforts off target for Wales. Austria responded with a Sarah Puntigam free kick into the area which was headed away by Sophie Ingle, as far as Verena Aschauer who fired wide.
Schiechtl also shot wide from distance and, as Austria enjoyed their best spell of the game, Laura O'Sullivan did well to turn Aschauer's shot around the post at full stretch.
Wales rode the difficult spell out won another free kick within shooting distance but this time Fishlock's effort lacked power and Zinsberger was able to gather comfortably. Fishlock was to produce a much better effort a minute later when she seized on a loose pass from Schnaderbeck and unleashed a shot from distance which swung narrowly wide of the post.
As the game wore on, Austria became more guarded and determined to keep hold of the point they required, preferring to keep possession rather than press for a goal. Wales did have to survive a goalmouth scramble from a corner though, Nadine Prohaska having a shot charged down before Angharad James was finally able to hack the ball away.
This had been a rare moment of worry for Wales in a game where the back four, well led by captain Ingle, defended solidly and were scarcely troubled despite the lively efforts of Laura Feiersinger and the impressive Puntigam.
Rachel Rowe, on as a substitute, forced a save from Zinsberger and James drove a shot wide but a draw was a fair result on the night and Austria successfully ran down the clock before their celebrations could begin. Wales can reflect on a campaign that improved as it went along and their task is to build on this momentum for the World Cup qualifiers which begin in a year's time.
Wales: Laura O'Sullivan, Rhiannon Roberts, Gemma Evans, Angharad James, Hayley Ladd, Sophie Ingle, Natasha Harding, Nadia Lawrence (sub Rachel Rowe 78mins), Kayleigh Green (sub Charlie Estcourt 69mins), Jessica Fishlock, Helen Ward. Subs not used: Claire Skinner, Melissa Fletcher, Bronwen Thomas, Kylie Davies, Shaunna Jenkins.
Austria: Manuela Zinsberger, Sophie Maierhofer, Katharina Schiechtl, Carina Wenninger, Sarah Zadrazil, Nina Burger, Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Nicole Billa (sub Nadine Prohaska 73mins), Sarah Puntigam, Laura Feiersinger (sub Stefanie Enzinger 90mins), Verena Aschauer (sub Jasmin Eder 85mins). Subs not used: Jasmin Pal, Katharina Naschenweng, Virginia Kirchberger, Barbara Dunst.
(top) Kayleigh Green bursts away from Viktoria Schnaderbeck
(middle) Gemma Evans is pursued by Sarah Zadrazil
(bottom) Nadine Prohaska has a shot charged down following a scramble
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