Denmark were flying. They needed a win in this fixture to secure their place at the next World Cup, and rightly so, as they were the best team in this group. Austria on paper were the second best team, and it wasn’t close. However, unlike Denmark - the Austrians had severely underperformed during qualifying. Scotland and Israel were currently ahead of them as Austria sat in a sad fourth place in the table. Only the Faroe Islands and Moldova placed beneath them. They found themselves needing to get something from this game to have any chance of keeping their own World Cup hopes alive. Madrid man David Alaba captained the side once more, and was operated on the left hand side again - but this time in a far more attacking set up of a back five with wing-backs in place to push further up the pitch.
If this match was played earlier in the qualifying campaign, then this Austrian performance would have been perfectly acceptable. The away side saw enough of the ball, created a fair number of chances and kept things as even as possible against the group’s best side. Alaba himself had an understatedly fine game without causing any of the shocks he would have like to. Unfortunately for Austria, this was a make or break game and they were unable to impose themselves upon Denmark enough. The Danes were playing well enough themselves, and in the second half the seemingly always in-form Joakim Mæhle put the hosts in front with a low strike hit first time into the bottom corner. This was enough to edge out such a close affair, much to the jubilation of the home nation. Whilst Denmark qualified, Austria became almost out of luck as both Scotland and Israel won their games. The all important top two spots are now out of reach, but a play-off can still be reached depending on their UEFA Nations League standings - so they have to rely on results elsewhere. For Alaba, with the news of Ferland Mendy returning from injury for Real Madrid - perhaps his time on the left will be reduced to International breaks only from now on.