Austria fight a losing battle against Greece

Austria lost their final match of this year against Greece despite having dominated for most of the 90 minutes last night (Weds).Dietmar Constantini’s team immediately put pressure on the Euro2004 champions’ back four and were awarded a penalty just five minutes into the game. Austria Vienna defender Florian Klein however failed to take advantage of this opportunity to score.Herbert Prohaska, who was named Austria’s Footballer of the 20th Century, said he failed to understand why only defenders were shooting penalties in the national team in most recent matches. Left back Christian Fuchs and West Bromwich Albion ace Paul Scharner previously failed to score for Austria from penalties in friendly fixtures.Just a few minutes after Klein’s flopped bid to take the lead, a goal by MSV Duisburg striker Stefan Maierhofer was controversially disallowed by the Swiss refereeing team. The 202-centimetre tall striker however did not foul Greece keeper Alexandros Tzorvas, but simply jumped higher than the Panathinaikos star.Maierhofer proved Constantini was right to give him a spot in the starting eleven once more. The former Rapid Vienna player was one of the best Austrians in the friendly which took place at the Ernst Happel Stadium.National team captain Marc Janko came on 30 minutes from the end in place of midfielder Veli Kavlak. Janko made clear ahead of the match he expected to be part of the starting line-up again after returning to the squad following an injury.Apart from Maierhofer, talented Bayern Munich midfielder David Alaba and Fuchs – who once more captained the team – put on stellar displays.Austria managed to keep up the heat for Greece throughout the first half but did not perform as strongly as they did in the Euro2012 qualifiers recently when Azerbaijan was crushed 3-0 and a 4-4 draw was achieved in an away match against Belgium.Celtic star Georgios Samaras shocked the home side’s fans when he scored a superb header four minutes into the second half. Fuchs gave the Austrian supporters some new hope when he equalised Greece’s lead in the 67th minute. His powerful attempt from outside the box left Tzorvas without any chance.It was PAOK ace Georgios Fotakis who sealed the away team’s victory 10 minutes from the final whistle in what was his first performance for his country’s national team.The Federal Football Association (ÖFB) has once more been criticised for staging a match against an opponent unlikely to draw big crowds in the capital’s 50,000-seat stadium. Just 16,200 fans showed up for the friendly which was broadcast live on ORF 1. Sports press have claimed it would have been a good idea to play in the smaller Red Bull Arena in Salzburg or in the Euro2008 venues in Innsbruck or Graz to avoid a decline of support for the national team outside Vienna.Austria are up against the Netherlands in a friendly on 9 February 2011 in Eindhoven before facing Belgium when the Euro2012 qualifiers continue the next month.