VIENNA, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Austria started their qualifying
campaign for the 2010 World Cup in style with a shock 3-1
victory over France in Group Seven on Saturday.
Forward Marc Janko deflected a long-range free kick by
captain Andreas Ivanschitz to open the scoring on eight minutes
and midfielder Rene Aufhauser deflected another set piece by
Ivanschitz to double the advantage shortly before the break.
France winger Sidney Govou reduced the arrears just after
the hour, collecting a Patrice Evra cross with his back to the
goal and turning around to score from six metres, but France
could not escape their first defeat by Austria in 38 years.
Ivanschitz sealed Austria's first win over France since a
1-0 victory in 1970 from a penalty on 72 minutes after Janko had
been brought down in the box by defender Philippe Mexes.
France, relying on a rejuvenated squad, were desperate to
bounce back from their group-stage exit from Euro 2008 but
looked nervous in the first half and woke up too late.
Austria, a modest 101st in the FIFA rankings, hardly created
a chance outside their three goals but defended bravely under
sustained pressure from the 2006 World Cup runners-up after the
"Set pieces, that's all they had," said France striker and
captain Thierry Henry. "We were coming back but then we allowed
them to increase their lead, which is bad," he added, blaming
Mexes for offering Austria a penalty.
France coach Raymond Domenech, who managed to keep his job
despite the Euro 2008 flop, can now expect another wave of
criticism from the local media.
"It's never nice to lose," he said. "I have my feelings
about what happened but I need to watch the game on video to
confirm my impressions," he added.
Austria, who also suffered a group stage exit as Euro 2008
co-hosts along with neighbouring Switzerland and now have a new
coach in Czech Karel Brueckner, go on to visit Lithuania on
Wednesday while France will host Serbia.