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Austria push Northern Ireland towards Euro 2022 exit

Austria kept alive their hopes of reaching the Euro 2022 knockout stages with a 2-0 win against Northern Ireland that pushed their opponents to the brink of elimination on Monday.

Goals from Katharina Schiechtl and Katharina Naschenweng ensured Austria bounced back from their defeat against England in the tournament opener.

It was a second successive Group A defeat for Northern Ireland, the lowest ranked nation in the event, after a 4-1 thrashing by Norway.

Schiechtl’s first-half opener was followed by Naschenweng’s strike after the interval in Southampton.

Austria remain in contention to make the quarter-finals ahead of their final group game against Norway.

The fate of Kenny Shiels’ side could be sealed in Monday’s late game between Norway and England, where Northern Ireland will be knocked out if the Norwegians fail to beat the hosts.

Northern Ireland will seek to salvage some pride from their first major tournament in their group finale against England.

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was among a crowd of 9,268 at St Mary’s and saw his home nation deservedly edge ahead in the 19th minute.

Northern Ireland’s static defence failed to respond to Sarah Puntigam’s low free-kick deflecting off Julie Nelson in the wall, leaving unmarked Werder Bremen defender Schiechtl with a close-range finish.

With Northern Ireland preparing to throw players forward in desperate search of a leveller, Austria sealed victory in the 88th minute.

Abbie Magee was caught out by a searching free-kick forward and substitute Naschenweng expertly skipped beyond Sarah McFadden to fire home.

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