Argentina took down Austria 3-2 in a thrilling Group E encounter that put the Argentinians atop Group E, with one group-stage match remaining. The South American side saw several chances in the early stages but Alexander Schlager’s steady hands kept the game scoreless.
Austria began to gain momentum in the 25th minute, when Sascha Horvath dribbled past three Argentina defenders but his shot on target was deflected wide. Three minutes later Horvath put on another similar display of skill, but the outcome was the same.
Austria’s goal then came in the 31st minute from a brilliant counter-attack, led by the scorer Nikola Zivotic. Quick play out of the back got the ball to Zivotic in the midfield, who cleverly saw Daniel Ripic in on goal with a nice through-ball. Ripic’s shot was saved by Argentina goalkeeper Augusto Batalla, but the rebound fell perfectly to Zivotic for a simple left-footed pass into the net for his second goal of the competition.
Joaquin Ibanez equalised for Argentina in the 42nd minute. A fantastic cross from Sebastian Driussi found Ibanez unmarked on the far post, and he headed past Schlager to send the teams into the dressing room even at 1-1.
It all went wrong for the Europeans shortly after the break. In the 51st minute, Argentina took the lead after a bizarre set of deflections around the penalty area. German Ferreyra mis-kicked the ball that came into the box from a deflected cross. It somehow found its way through the legs of Schlager, who could only look on in disbelief as the ball slowly rolled into the goal.
Sanchez nearly made it three for the South Americans in the 71st minute, but Schlager did well to save Sanchez’s stinging half-volley from 12 yards out. The near post saved Schlager seven minutes later when Leondaro Suarez struck the woodwork, which surely would have put the game out of reach for the Austrians.
With ten minutes to decide the winner, both sides had a handful of chances, but it was Argentina who got the job done through Suarez with two minutes to spare. A bouncing ball sent from the back looped down the pitch and the Austrian rearguard couldn’t clear as Argentina’s No10 latched on to it and beat the last defender, finishing just above Schlager’s outstretched arms.
Argentina’s win sends the South Americans to the top of Group E with one match left to play, and there's still everything to play for with all four teams capable of advancing to the Round of 16. Argentina face Canada and Austria meet Iran on 25 October to see out group play.