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Wales v Austria Live Commentary, 24/03/2022

2 - 1
G. Bale (25)
G. Bale (51)
M. Sabitzer (64)
Cardiff City Stadium


Thanks for joining us for live coverage of Wales' 2-1 win over Austria in their World Cup play-off semi-final.
Wales will now play either Ukraine or Scotland as they bid to reach their first World Cup finals since 1958. Can they do enough to qualify for Qatar? For Austria though, they will have to wait before they get the chance to reach their eighth World Cup.
The final whistle goes, and it's the hosts who celebrate as they run out 2-1 winners. Their star man Bale will take the plaudits, as he scores the goals that keep their World Cup qualification hopes alive. His first was a sublime free-kick from 25 yards out, which arrowed into the top corner past the diving Lindner. He added his second after 51 minutes with another excellent finish, after Davies laid the ball off to him. The Real Madrid forward took a touch before firing into the back of the net. Austria did pull a goal back on 64 minutes, after a Sabitzer shot from just outside the box deflected off Davies and over Hennessey. There was a few nervy moments for Wales late on, but they held on to secure the victory.
90' + 5' Johnson nearly kills the game off with a late drive, but Lindner is able to tip it behind for a corner.
N. Williams
Yellow Card
90' + 4' Williams is booked for a foul on Seiwald.
C. Mepham
G. Bale
90' + 3' Goalscorer Bale is off for Mepham as Page tries to protect the lead.
90' + 2' Sabitzer and Arnautovic have a couple of late opportunities, but the hosts survive as Davies and Hennessey combine to foil them.
90' The fourth official has indicated that there will be four minutes of additional time. Can Wales hold on?
M. Gregoritsch
S. Lainer
88' Gregoritsch is on in place of Lainer.
B. Johnson
D. James
88' Johnson comes on for James.
S. Lainer
Yellow Card
87' Lainer is yellow-carded after clattering into Wilson.
86' Alaba whips a cross in, but Hennessey is out quickly to claim it and take the pressure off his defence.
84' The Fulham man is okay to continue, and the game is back underway.
83' Wilson is down in pain after a clash in midfield.
81' Arnautovic has been involved in 13 goals in his last 14 World Cup qualifiers. Can he find another here to keep his nation in the tie?
79' There's panic in the Wales box as they struggle to clear a Weimann cross, but the ball is eventually hacked away.
V. Lazaro
X. Schlager
77' Schlager makes way for Lazaro.
A. Weimann
C. Baumgartner
77' Weimann comes on for Baumgartner.
76' The visitors are just starting to raise the tempo a little as they desperately try to find an equaliser to send this game to extra-time.
74' Bale takes another free-kick, and the hosts claim for a penalty after they think Bale's blocked effort comes off a hand in the wall. The referee disagrees though and waves play on.
72' Alaba swings in a low corner, but Kalajdzic can only flick the ball into the side netting.
70' Austria have scored four goals in both of their last two matches, and they'll have to find another goal here to keep themselves in the tie.
68' James has a great opportunity to make it 3-1 after he's played through by Ramsey, but Lindner makes a big stop to deny his drilled effort.
66' Can the visitors kick on now and level things up?
S. Lainer
64' Lainer played the ball in the middle to Sabitzer, who's deflected shot gets his side back in the game.
M. Sabitzer
64' Austria have a goal back!!! Sabitzer shoots from outside the box and his shot takes a wicked deflection off Davies, which lifts the ball up and over the diving Hennessey to make it 2-1.
62' No Wales player was involved in more goals during their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign than Bale, contributing three goals and three assists.
60' Alaba takes the free-kick, but his set-piece hits the wall. A player of his quality should really have done better there.
H. Wilson
Yellow Card
59' Schlager is down clutching his face after a coming together with Wilson just outside the Wales box, with the referee awarding the visitors a free-kick. Wilson is booked for the incident.
57' An Alaba corner momentarily causes havoc in the hosts' box, but they eventually scramble it clear.
S. Kalajdzic
K. Laimer
55' Kalajdzic comes on for Laimer, as Foda is forced to chase the game.
55' James has a great chance to make it 3-0 after Bale's lofted through ball picks him out. His shot is saved, but it turns out the goal would've been ruled offside anyway.
53' The hosts are unbeaten in their last 16 home matches across all competitions, and it looks as if they are on their way to another victory here.
B. Davies
51' Davies tapped the ball off to Bale, who did the rest to double his side's lead.
G. Bale
51' Bale makes it 2-0!!! It's another excellent finish, after Davies laid the ball off to him in the box. Bale takes a touch, before placing his effort into the top right corner past the diving Lindner.
50' Wilson latches onto a loose pass in the Austria defence, before laying the ball left to James. The Leeds forward then wins a corner after his cross is deflected behind.
48' Lainer crosses into Arnautovic, but the striker just has to reach back for the header a little and his attempt on goal goes well wide.
46' The hosts get us back underway for the second period. Can they hold onto their lead?
As it stands, it'll be Wales who will play either Scotland or Ukraine in the play-off final. Can Austria turn the game around in the second half and give themselves a chance of reaching Qatar?
We go to the break with the scoreline 1-0 to the hosts. The visitors had a golden chance after just four minutes, when Sabitzer played Baumgartner through on goal. The Hoffenheim midfielder beat the keeper with his shot, but not the bar as it came off the goalframe and away from danger. Wales took the lead on 25 minutes with a moment of brilliance from Bale, who's free-kick was inch-perfect to get over the wall and into the back of the net from 25 yards out. Ramsey had a great chance to double his side's advantage on 40 minutes, but his shot was tipped wide by Lindner to keep the score at 1-0.
45' Nice interplay on the right allows Roberts to send a low cross into the box, but James and Bale get in each other's way and the visitors can clear upfield.
44' The visitors have struggled to create many clear-cut chances so far, and they'll have to improve if they want to keep their World Cup qualification hopes alive.
42' Baumgartner nods at goal after a cross from the right picks him out, but the header doesn't have the power or direction to trouble Hennessey.
40' What a chance! Ramsey is played in by Wilson before the midfielder lets fly at goal, but Lindner does well to scramble to his left and tip the shot wide for a corner.
39' Alaba's delivery from the free-kick is threatening, and Hennessey can only punch the ball off his own defender and out for a corner.
38' Williams brings down Laimer, and the visitors have a chance to get the ball in the box from a decent crossing position.
36' Austria have been eliminated in both of their World Cup play-off campaigns.
34' The Tottenham centre-half is okay to continue and we are back underway.
33' Rodon is down requiring treatment after a coming together with Arnautovic, as the Austrian forward ran in on goal.
31' Arnautovic gets on the end of a Laimer cross, but his header is high and wide of Hennessey's goal.
29' Baumgartner heads at goal but Ampadu is able to block it behind for a corner, which then comes to nothing.
27' Bale tries to link up with James, but the former's pass is just behind the Leeds man and the visitors can clear.
G. Bale
25' What a goal!!! Bale puts his side into the lead with a magnificent free-kick. The Real Madrid forward stepped up, and smashed the ball over the wall and under the bar to make it 1-0 and send the home crowd into raptures.
C. Baumgartner
Yellow Card
24' Baumgartner is the first player to go in the book, for obstructing Wilson as the Fulham midfielder tried to play a one-two with James.
23' Ramsey heads at goal from a Williams cross, but his nodded effort skims off his head and well wide.
21' Williams cuts onto his right foot and shoots, but his effort is tame and straight at Lindner. That's about as close as Wales have come so far.
20' This is Wales' first World Cup play-off match since 1958, where they overcame Israel over two legs.
18' Alaba has been impressive so far for Austria, showing some flashy passing ability whilst also doing the defensive work well.
15' The visitors haven't won away at Wales since 2005.
13' Wales are just struggling to get into this game at the minute, with Bale and James up top not really in the match yet.
11' The hosts are unbeaten in their last three games against Austria.
9' Alaba picks out Arnautovic in the box with a clever through ball, but the ball runs to the goalkeeper before the former West Ham forward could get a shot away at goal.
7' Ramsey nearly gets a toe on a James cross into the box, but it agonisingly just evades the Rangers man's foot.
5' The visitors hit the bar! Baumgartner is played through by Sabitzer, but his shot over Hennessey pings off the bar and away from danger. That was a great chance to have a perfect start to the tie.
4' Both teams are looking a little nervy, which is to be expected in such an important game.
2' James has an early effort easily saved by Lindner, as he shot from just inside the box straight at the Austrian goalkeeper.
1' The visitors kick us off and we are underway in this massive game. Who will progress to keep their World Cup qualification hopes alive?
The two teams make their way onto the pitch ahead of kick-off.
Visiting boss Franco Foda goes with six alterations to the side that thumped Moldova 4-1 in their last match, with Hinteregger and Alaba coming into the back four. Schlager, Laimer and Lainer come into the midfield, as well as Baumgartner. Sabitzer will play just behind Arnautovic up top.
Home manager Rob Page makes four changes from Wales’ last game, a 1-1 home draw with Belgium. The big news is that Bale starts, despite missing Real Madrid’s match against Barcelona due to illness. He is partnered up front by James, while Hennessey starts in goal. Ampadu and Wilson are the other two players to come into the starting line-up.
SUBS: Stefan Posch, Stefan Ilsanker, Andreas Weimann, Marco Grull, Patrick Pentz, Valentino Lazaro, Alessandro Schopf, Daniel Bachmann, Sasa Kalajdzic, Louis Schaub, Michael Gregoritsch, Andreas Ulmer.
AUSTRIA (4-4-1-1): Heinz Lindner; Nicolas Seiwald, Martin Hinteregger, Aleksandar Dragovic, David Alaba; Xaver Schlager, Konrad Laimer, Stefan Lainer, Christoph Baumgartner; Marcel Sabitzer; Marko Arnautovic.
SUBS: Rhys Norrington-Davies, Brennan Johnson, Chris Mepham, Tom King, Mark Harris, Sorba Thomas, Adam Davies, Jonathan Williams, Dylan Levitt, Rubin Colwill, Chris Gunter, Rabbi Matondo.
WALES (4-4-2): Wayne Hennessey; Ethan Ampadu, Joe Rodon, Ben Davies, Connor Roberts; Harry Wilson, Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey, Neco Williams; Daniel James, Gareth Bale.
The visitors meanwhile finished fourth in Group F, but qualified for this match due to their Nations League ranking. They will hope to make their eighth World Cup, and the first since 1998.
The hosts come into this massive game after they finished second in Group E, going the whole qualification campaign without losing at home. They are bidding to reach their first World Cup since 1958.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the World Cup Play-Off semi-final between Wales and Austria at the Cardiff City Stadium. The winner of this game will go on to meet either Scotland or Ukraine, with the hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.