Late equaliser denies NI a famous win over Austria

Northern Ireland players are dejected at the final whistle. Credit: Press Eye

A stoppage-time equaliser denied Northern Ireland what would have been a famous win in their Women's World Cup qualifier against Austria.

Two goals in five minutes from Laura Wade and Demi Vance had put Northern Ireland in control after Barbara Dunst gave the visitors a half-time lead in Tuesday's clash at Seaview.

However they could not quite hold out for a third win in Group D, as Stefanie Enzinger's late strike meant it finished 2-2.

Before kick-off, a draw would have been seen as a good result against a side ranked 27 places above Northern Ireland in the world rankings.

But after Austria passed up a string of late chances, Kenny Shiels' side must have thought a significant win was theirs.

Instead, as the final whistle loomed, Austria captain Carina Wenninger sent a curling ball forward and Enzinger raced on to it to head beyond Burns as the goalie strayed off her line.

Hit by the late loss of Caragh Hamilton, Chloe McCarron, Laura Rafferty and Nadene Caldwell from the squad, it was little surprise to see Northern Ireland come under pressure in the first half, with Burns doing well to keep out Dunst's well-hit free-kick low to her right.

But there was nothing the Glentoran goalkeeper could do four minutes before the break when Sarah Zadrazil slipped the ball through for Dunst to run into the area and fire home from a tight angle.

It was a real blow on the stroke of half-time but Shiels found the right words in the dressing room as Northern Ireland turned things around almost immediately.

There was less than a minute of the second half played when Rachel Furness' diagonal ball found Wade who poked the ball beyond Manuela Zinsberger, and four minutes later the hosts led as Vance beat the goalkeeper with a superb free-kick, but it was not enough for victory.