Wales 1 Austria 0: Debutant Woodburn hits stunner to snatch vital victory

Teenager Ben Woodburn capped a dream debut with the only goal in Wales' victory over Austria.

Ben Woodburn celebrates his goal for Wales.   -  Getty Images

Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn came off the bench to fire Wales to a crucial 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Austria in Cardiff.

With second-placed Republic of Ireland held 1-1 in Georgia, Wales had the chance to pull within two points of a play-off spot and did just that courtesy of Woodburn's stunning 74th-minute strike.

Chris Coleman had thrown on the teenager for his international debut just five minutes before he hit the goal that sends Wales to within touching distance of second place in Group D.

The host was backed by raucous support at Cardiff City Stadium but the result was far from straightforward as Austria, guided by Bayern Munich's David Alaba, looked more likely to break a first-half deadlock.

But the surprise Euro 2016 semifinalist improved after the break to celebrate just its second victory of qualifying and first since the opening matchday.

Coleman left free agent Joe Ledley out of his starting XI but the manager's faith in 17-year-old Woodburn was rewarded, leaving Wales with a golden chance to apply more pressure when it visits Moldova on Tuesday.

All eyes were on Gareth Bale as he returned from suspension and the Real Madrid man sought to make an early impact, but shot harmlessly after driving through the heart of Austria's midfield in the third minute.

Aaron Ramsey fired over from the next opening but it was far from one-way traffic early as David Edwards made an important block on Alaba, before Marko Arnautovic flashed a dangerous ball across the face of goal.

Arnautovic then almost punished Wayne Hennessey for coming off his line in attempting to clear a pass in behind, but the goalkeeper managed to hold up the West Ham attacker before recovering defenders arrived to quell the danger.

Austria was dealt a blow midway through the opening stanza with an injured Sebastian Prodl limping off, the Watford defender replaced by teenager Kevin Danso.

The visiting team did still create the best chance of the half when Julian Baumgartlinger threaded an incisive pass through to Arnautovic but, with only Hennessey to beat, the 28-year-old guided his angled attempt over the crossbar.

Bale looked to inject more life into Wales' attack after the restart, forcing Heinz Lindner to dive to his left in order to push away a curling effort from distance.

Ashley Williams was fortunate to escape punishment for shoulder-checking the lively Marcel Sabitzer off the ball as Wales continued to grow into the game, Arsenal midfielder Ramsey fizzing a low effort past the post.

And when Bale was needed for a last-ditch tackle on Martin Harnik, Coleman looked to his bench for attacking support - introducing Hal Robson-Kanu and 17-year-old Woodburn.

It was the debutant who produced the necessary magic, punishing Austria for failing to clear its lines with a thumping low drive into the bottom corner.

Skipper Williams denied Arnautovic with goal-line header at the other end while Bale and Robson-Kanu both went close in stoppage time as the home side held on for their biggest result yet in Group D.

Coleman's side will hope to ram home the advantage against lowly Moldova on Tuesday, with Austria returning home to meet Georgia.

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