Austria sealed qualification from Group C at Euro 2020 with an impressive 1-0 win against Ukraine in Bucharest.
Starting the day in 3rd place, level on points with their opponents, the Austrians came out with an offensive plan to take the game to the Ukrainians, and stole the three points through a poked Christoph Baumgartner finish from a David Alaba corner, leapfroging their eastern European counterparts and cement their place in the last 16.
In a tactical switch-up by manager Franco Foda, the Austrians changed their starting formation from a 3-5-2 shape to a more conventional 4-2-3-1, shifting talismanic captain Alaba to his natural left-back berth, rather than fielding him in the middle of the back three as had been seen in the previous two group games.
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The new Real Madrid man would be tasked with marshalling Andriy Yarmolenko, succesfully marking the West Ham winger out of the game, forcing Ukraine's creative onus on left-sided Ruslan Malinovskyi and Oleksandr Zinchenko, but neither could really grab the game by the scruff of the neck as the Austrians and Alaba held firm to eek out a solid victory.
Daniel Bachmann only had one proper decent save to make after Aleksandar Dragovic almost put a Zinchenko free kick into his own net after Mykola Matvienko threw himself at the delivery at the near post, but otherwise, it would be the Austrians that would supply the more of the attacking highlights; peppering Heorhii Bushcan's goal with attempts from Marco Arnautovic, Marcel Sabitzer, Baumgartner and Xavier Schlager.
Andriy Shevchenko could not mastermind a utopian Ukrainian performance, as their tournament hangs in the balance - a mere three points, a negative goal difference and a third placed finish could prove perilous for them - but Austria march on relentlessly into the last 16.

Marko Arnautovic (right; Austria) against Ukraine

Image credit: Getty Images


The Madrid-bound boy with nothing to prove for his club, but plenty to prove for his country.
The side, often built around the former Bayern left-back, was not so suited to him today, as he was primarily tasked with marking the dangerous Yarmolenko out of the game, and he did so with great effect: forcing the right winger down the line onto his weaker right boot, and placing too much pressure upon Malinovskyi and Zinchenko, with the former taken off at half time due to a disappointing display.
Alaba turned provider for the crucial goal - a fantastic outswinging corner that was finished superbly by Baumgartner, but the goal would never have happened had it not been for the wand that it is Alaba's left boot.

Christoph Baumgartner of Austria celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group C match between Ukraine and Austria at National Arena on June 21, 2021 in Bucharest

Image credit: Getty Images


I may have used the talking point to worship David Alaba, but Schlager played a crucial role in the middle of midfield for the visitors.
He won almost every duel in the challenge, drove forwards when support was needed, and he sat deep when Florian Grillitsch ventured forwards to orchestrate in a more advanced role as a number 10 should do.
Schlager, meanwhile, did the dirty work with no complaints, and he was the vital cog behind the scenes, keeping everything ticking over whilst his team-mates will take the credit. Unsung hero.


Ukraine: Bushchan 6, Karavaev 5, Zabarnyi 6, Matvienko 5, Mykolenko 6, Shaparenko 5, Sydorchuk 5, Zinchenko 6, Yarmolenko 5, Yaremchuk 5, Malinovskyi 5, Tsygankov 6, Marlos 6, Beysedin 6.
Austria: Bachmann 6, Lainer 6, Dragovic 6, Hinteregger 6, Alaba 8, Laimer 7, Schlager 8, Grilliitsch 6, Sabitzer 7, Baumgartner 7, Arnautovic 6, Schopf 6, Ilsanker 6, Kalajdzic 6.]


7': Arnautovic with a dangerous run, penetrating the heart of the Ukrainian defence, and it ricochets to Sabitzer! He's blazed it over!
21': GOAL! In from Alaba, and Baumgartner is there off the far post! He's poked it in! He got away from his marker, stole a march on him, and stabs Austria into a precious lead.
37': Laimer, does really well twisting and turning in a tight corridor off the left, and curls it! Good save Bushcan.
61': An hour gone, Ukraine with a promising free kick on the left. Zinchenko over it, and nearly an own goal! Bachmann with a great save after Matvienko threw himself at it at the near post.
87': Zinchenko has moved to left-back, to add more guile down the left... meanwhile, here comes Yaremchuk! He fires just wide. They're getting closer.


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