Wales ended their 2018 Cyprus Cup campaign with an impressive 1-1 draw against last year’s UEFA European Championship Semi-Finalists Austria.
Austria 1-1 Wales
2018 Cyprus Cup
- Wednesday, 7 March 2018
- AEK Arena, Larnaca
Manager Jayne Ludlow made five changes to the team that held Switzerland to a goalless draw and the youngsters were challenged by a full strength Austrian side including striker Nina Burger who was representing her country for the 100th time. Gwen Davies and Kylie Nolan were given their first starts for Wales and both players looked comfortable in midfield alongside Jess Fishlock and Melissa Fletcher.
Austria took an early lead after Sarah Puntigam connected well with a volley at the edge of the box. Despite Austria pushing the pressure on Wales, the back line kept their shape and frustrated the Austrians in their efforts to push through. Wales had more chances towards the end of the half, and striker Helen Ward was unlucky not to connect a bicycle kick attempt in the closing stages.
Ludlow made several changes at the start of the second half, bringing on youth and experience as Angharad James, Amina Vine, Gemma Evans and Hannah Miles entered the fray. Austria could have doubled their lead near the hour mark as they hit the crossbar, but Wales’ brave defending made sure very few chances threatened goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan.
With less than fifteen minutes remaining, striker Kayleigh Green came on the pitch and made an instant impact with her chasing and closing down. The hard work paid off with minutes remaining as Green intercepted a poor back pass, rounded the keeper and placed the ball into the empty net to equalise.
As the full-time whistle blew with the game drawn, a penalty shootout took place to decide Wales’ final place in the tournament. Wales lost the shoot-out 3-2 giving them a 8th placed finish in the tournament but there were positives in abundance from the tournament for a Welsh side that faced a higher FIFA ranked side in every match they played.
Austria: 21 Jasmin Pfeiler (1 Manuela Zinsberger 45’), 5 Sophie Maierhofer, 6 Katharina Schiechtl (20 Laura Wienroither 82’), 9 Sarah Zadrazil, 10 Nina Burger, 11 Viktoria Schnaderbeck © (18 Laura Feiersinger 45’), 13 Virginia Kirchberger, 14 Barbara Dunst (7 Carina Wenninger 45’), 15 Nicola Billa (12 Stefanie Enzinger 62’), 16 Jasmin Eder (22 Jennifer Klein 65’), 17 Sarah Puntigam
Wales: 1 Laura O’Sullivan, 2 Loren Dykes, 4 Sophie Ingle ©, 5 Rhiannon Roberts (9 Kayleigh Green 81’), 6 Alice Griffiths, 10 Jess Fishlock (15 Amina Vine 45’), 17 Charlie Estcourt, 18 Melissa Fletcher (Nadia Lawrence 59’), 20 Helen Ward (19 Hannah Miles 48’), 21 Kylie Nolan (3 Gemma Evans 45’), 22 Gwen Davies (8 Angharad James 45’)
Goals: S Puntigam 13’, K Green 85’
Yellow cards: V Kirchberger 48’, A James 72’