26.03.2013 at 19:45 Aviva Stadium
Republic of Ireland
2 - 2
Referee: Marijo Strajonja (Croatia).
World Cup Qualifier / Prog-match
Sean St Ledger
Rep of Ireland 2 Austria 2
A last minute equaliser from David Alaba prevented the Republic of Ireland from moving into second place in their FIFA World Cup qualifying group at the Aviva Stadium.
The 20-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder's strike denied Ireland victory after they had come back from conceding an early goal to Martin Harnik to take a 2-1 lead just before half-time thanks to two goals from Jonathon Walters.
The draw leaves Ireland in fourth place in Group C, level on points with Austria and Sweden but with an inferior goal difference and eight points behind leaders Germany who beat Kazakhstan 4-1 in Nuremburg.
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni made two changes from the side which drew 0-0 with Sweden last Friday as Derby County's Conor Sammon was drafted in to replace the injured Robbie Keane while Glenn Whelan, who mthe game in Stockholm, through injury, returned in place of Paul Green.
There was a doubt over left-back Marc Wilson, who had a hamstring problem, but he was passed fit to play just before kick-off and John O'Shea was handed the captain's armband in the absence of Robbie Keane.
The Austrians started brightly and signalled their intent after just 80 seconds when Alaba tried his luck with a long range free-kick that was just past David Forde's post.
Just when it look the Irish were settling into the game after a a nervous start, the Austrians took the lead after 11 minutes. Ciaran Clarke was caught in possession by Zlatko Junuzovic, who broke away down the right and into the box before squaring to the supporting Martin Harnik and he beat David Forde with a low drive from 15 metres.
Ireland had a few more nervy moments after that and James McCarthy picked up a yellow card for a foul on Junuzovic which will rule him out of Ireland's next qualifier at home to the Faroe Islands in June.
But they got back into the game in 24 minutes and the equaliser came from the penalty spot after Shane Long had beaten the offside trap and was pulled down by Emanuel Pogatetz when he tried to cut back from the bye-line. Jonathon Walters stepped up to take the kick and drilled the ball low into the corner having sent the keeper the wrong way.
Ireland almost went ahead on 38 minutes when a great move involving Sammon, Long and James McClean ended with the Sunderland winger drilling in a low cross from the left which fell for Long and although he had his back to goal he produced an audacious back-heel which beat Linder but came back off the keeper's left-hand post.
The lead goal eventually came on the stroke of half-time when the tricky McClean won Ireland's third corner of the half. Glenn Whelan took the kick from the left and it was met by Walters whose header went in off the back post.
Ireland almost increased their lead immediately after the restart when Sammon was brought down on the edge of the box by Christian Fuchs and McClean curled the free-kick into the side-netting.
Austria were still dangerous though and Forde had to get down quickly to keep out a sizzling drive from Martin Harnik before watching with relief when Gyorgy Garic shot across the face of his goal and past the right hand post.
The Austrian enjoyed the bulk of possession for the rest of the half with Irish defending deep though they did produce the odd chance on the break and from set-pieces. Mark Wilson twice went close, the first them producing a fantastic save from Linder, while the Austrian keeper was also well placed to keep out a header from McClean following a cross by Walters.
The final few minutes were nail-biting with Forde producing one excellent save from a Harnik header but right at the death the Austrian got an equaliser when Harnik found the unmarked Alaba on the edge of the box and his powerful shot took a deflection as it flew past Forde into the top corner.
SHane Long was named as the 3 Man of the Match and afterwards expressed his disappointment withthe result.
"We put in a really good performance and four points would have been good from these two games. It was a sucker punch. I think we deserved to win but we just have to pick ourselves up from it," said Long.
Republic of Ireland: David Forde; Seamus Coleman, John O'Shea, Ciaran Clark (Sean St Ledger 72), Marc Wilson; Jonathon Walters, Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, James McClean: Conor Sammon, Shane Long (Paul Greene 83).
Austria: Linder, Garics, Dragovic, Pogatetz, Fuchs, Arnautovic, Alaba, Junuzovic (Baumgartlinger 24), Harnik, Kaviak (Weimann 69), Hosiner (Janko 62)
Click on Pictures from match - above to see Match Programme