Sean Fleming's under-17 side fought back from a early deficit to draw Austria in what could have been a much higher-scoring affair.Canada opened its 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup with an entertaining 2-2 draw with Austria on Saturday in Dubai, with goals from Jordan Hamilton and Elias Roubos. The Austrians answered with strikes from Sascha Horvath and Nikola Zivotic, as the team traded leads en route to the eventual stalemate.
The Canadians had the brighter start of the two sides, and could have notched a couple of early goals with some better bounces. Sean Fleming's squad nearly capitalized on a botched Austrian clearance after a Kianz Gonzalez free kick, but goalkeeper Alexander Schlager stopped a point-blank effort from inside the six-yard box to keep the match scoreless.
Moments later, FC Edmonton's Hanson Boakai was sent in behind the Austrian defensive line, but Schlager snatched the ball off the Canadian's feet as he tried to dribble around the onrushing 'keeper.
Despite the early Canadian pressure, it was the Europeans who opened the scoring. After a 28th minute Austrian throw-in deep in Canada's territory, Horvath latched on to a short pass inside the penalty area and fired a rising shot that hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced into Canada's goal.
That moment of brilliance by the Austrian talisman shifted the momentum, and for much of the remainder of the first half Canada was on the back foot. The Austrians enjoyed several attacking chances, the best of which saw Canadian goalkeeper Marco Carducci make a charging stop on Daniel Ripic just six yards from goal.
Canada managed to ride out the late first-half storm without conceding, and instead started the second half on the front foot. It didn't take long for the Canadians to convert their post-halftime pressure, as Hamilton collected a floated ball into the Austrian area in the 53rd minute and, after creating a bit of space for himself, fired a low drive that eluded a diving Schlager.
Hamilton's equalizer revitalized the Canadians, and just five minutes later they took the lead for the first time in the match. Gonzalez found himself in front of the Austrian goal surrounded by three defenders, and he was fouled as he attempted to take a shot.
The ensuing penalty was coolly slotted home by Roubos, giving Canada a short-lived 2-1 lead.
Austria levelled things up just three minutes later as Zivotic hit a nice volley past a helpless Carducci, setting up a frantic final half hour that would see both sides get several gilt-edged chances to find a winner.
In the end, the 2-2 scoreline would hold up despite wide-open play to end the match. Both sides would feel a bit unlucky to not hve snagged another goal or two, but neither will feel the result was unfair as the draw reflected the action on the pitch.
Canada will try to expand on the point earned on Tuesday, as the side next faces Iran on Oct. 22.