At the start of the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 championship, most predicted France and Switzerland to be the two teams to move on from Group C and into the knockout stages. Austria, however, have other ideas and after their fantastic performance to earn a 1-1 draw against France today, now top Group C.
France threaten but Austria take the early lead
The pre-match predictions thought that France would win this game and the third best team in the world certainly started in a way that showed they were looking to dominate proceedings. In the second minute, Marie-Laure Delie, who earned the start today, got onto the end of a flick on from Wendie Renard and tried an audacious flick towards goal but it was straight into the hands of Manuela Zinsberger.
Delie had another opportunity to give France the lead in the 16th minute when she combined well with Gaëtane Thiney, who then cut the ball back to the striker in the box. The Paris Saint-Germain forward put her effort on target but Zinsberger used her feet well to keep the shot out.
Austria got over their early nerves and began to find their way into the game. They should have taken the lead in the 22nd minute when a mistake by goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi allowed Nicole Billa to pounce on the poor pass out by Bouhaddi and square it to an onrushing Laura Feiersinger. Unfortunately for Austria, the wing back was unable to connect as well as she would have wanted which allowed Bouhaddi to parry the ball away and make up for her error.
Austria's self-belief continued to grow in the 27th minute, Lisa Makas put them ahead. A long throw-in was deflected into Makas' path and she took a touch before tucking the ball away sweetly into the near corner of the goal, much to the happy delirium of her and her teammates.
Henry comes to the fore and brings France back into the game
The second half of the game was all about Amandine Henry. The midfielder put on a sterling show to bring France on top in the game and got the goal her play deserved early in the second half. Thiney sent in a good delivery from the corner which was misjudged in the air by Zinsberger and Henry was on hand to put her header into an empty net, drawing France level in the game.
Henry almost put France ahead in the 66th minute when, after a mazy run, she sent a fantastic shot towards goal that Zinsberger got a finger onto and made the ball glance off the crossbar and way from goal. The shot had been heading towards the far corner so Zinsberger did well to get across her goal quickly and reach for the ball.
Austria were not completely out of the game as substitute Nadine Prohaska showed in the 77th minute when she placed a lovely volley towards goal from outside the box that made Bouhaddi stretch out and dive to keep out of her goal. Both teams continued to try and find a winner, with France pushing forward much more than Austria but in the end, the game only saw two goals as it ended in a draw.
Austria now have a fantastic chance to not only make the quarter finals but also top their group while France must find a way to convert all of their possession into meaningful chances in front of goal. Today, however, will be remembered as the day that Austria went toe-to-toe with one of the game's biggest nations and held their own.