Austria laboured to a 2-1 victory over Moldova in Linz tonight, getting Gray Surman’s first international venture off to a winning start, though the visitors threatened a late equaliser to spoil the party.
In a fiery first-half, stoked by inconsistent refereeing, Austria took a well-worked lead through Sebastian Dittrich whose cool finish from ten yards out was reminiscent of the style Surman has Borussia Dortmund playing.
Parity was restored just six minutes later after the hosts gifted Moldova two opportunities to loft the ball into the box from set pieces. The second of which took an unfortunate touch off man-of-the-match Jonas Littmann and flew past his own goalkeeper.
Four changes at the break catalysed Austria and a little over two minutes from the restart, Oliver Markoutz (left) smashed home a half-volley. He had a glorious chance in stoppage time to seal the win after the back four had thwarted the Moldovan push for an equaliser.
Austria play Malta here on Monday, and Surman has indicated that he’ll give the rest of his 23-man squad chance to win a place in his squad for October’s UEFA Qualifiers.
The anthems have been played, the teams introduced, and Austrian manager Grayson Surman has taken his place in the dugout for his first international match, having been appointed as Austria U19 Head Coach last month. Tonight we have the first of two friendlies for the side before they head to the Netherlands for competitive action.
Ben Ayres from World Soccer Magazine has predicted a home win, “Austria are simply a better side than Moldova and I fully expect them to triumph.”
 Moldova kick-off here in Linz and Surman’s new Austrian side are underway in their first match under his guidance.
 Early defending for the home side to do as Mosneaga whips the ball into the box from the right-hand side. ‘Keeper doesn’t come to get, but between the two Austrian centre-backs they get the ball away.
 Vitaly Cravescu is shown a yellow card inside the opening seventy seconds as he badly mistimes a challenge on Moritz Gimpl, who reacts by getting to his feet and giving the Moldovan a shove. Gimpl joins him in the Slovenian’s referee’s book.
 First touch for Eckert in the Austrian goal as he claims Mosneaga’s looping cross. Austria attack from the back, but a final ball into the box is overhit after some neat exchanges of play across the area.
 Austrian captain Floran Madlmayr is getting forward from the right-back position, but not yet got the right cross into the box. Austria using Surman’s 4-2-3-1 that he utilises at Dortmund.
 First attempt on goal comes from the head of Platica as he nods Cravescu’s cross well-wide. Eckert’s goal never under threat there.
 AUSTRIA 1-0 MOLDOVA: There’s the opening goal and scenes of delight on the Austrian bench. Rauth and Littmann play a neat one-two after the former dummies a shot, Littmann plays it through to Sebastian Dittrich who slots past Livitcii from close range.
 Pusca puts behind Dittrich’s cross from the right and Austria win the first corner of the game. Fantastic run by the goalscorer, had three men in the box to pick out and the Moldovan defender was lucky not to put through his own net there. Berco clears from Markoutz’s delivery.
 Stefan Bergmeister is late on an opponent right in front of the assistant, and is lucky to escape a booking. Michael Rauth gives away another free-kick seconds after the restart.
 AUSTRIA 1-1 MOLDOVA: Austria’s vice-captain will be kicking himself after gioving Moldova the chance to pop the ball into the box, but Jonas Littmann – best player on the park so far – will be doubly-frustrated as he gets the final touch to Stefan Jicul’s free-kick to divert it past his own ‘keeper.
 Second corner for Austria, Dittrich wins it and takes it but the delivery isn’t great.
 Massive let-off for Moldova as Livitcii saves from Dittrich’s header. Rauth and Dittrich both with opportunities at either post as the ball comes across from the left but neither gets a strong enough connection on the ball.
 Corner for Austria, Munteanu just puts the ball wide of his own post from Rauth’s square-ball into the six-yard box. Mosneaga gets it away at the near post.
 Cravescu, booked very early on, slides in on Bogner and gives away the free-kick. Nothing more.
 Controversy here as Florian Madlmayr makes an extremely similar challenge on an opponent and is cautioned. Surman pointing that out to the fourth official.
 Michael Rauth beats the Moldovan offside trap brilliantly, and keeps the ball in right by the goal line. It goes back to Madlmayr who fires a cross towards the far post abnd Littmann is inches away from a tap-in.
 Madlmayr puts in a strong challenge on Cravescu on the far side. Wins the ball but Cravescu needs treatment.
 Fantastic save from Eckert as he tips away a 20-yarder from Nicolai Platica. As the ball is cleared, Madlmayr backs into Cravescu. Free-kick, and Surman will be looking to get his skipper in at the break and calm him down.
 Moldova have a corner, their first of the match. Jicul whips it in low towards the near post and Cravescu flicks it on. Evades everyone as it goes wide at the far post. Sigh of relief for the hosts, a slight touch from anyone would have probably sent that in.
 Bergmeister fouls Mosneaga in a similar place to the one that led to the equaliser. Jicul’s ball into the box is hammered away by Bergmeister around the penalty spot.
 One minute additional time here in Linz.
HALF-TIME: Austria 1-1 Moldova (U19 International Friendly).
[HT] Four changes at the break for the hosts. New ‘keeper on in Steffen Gutzeit (for Eckert, 6.8) who takes the captain’s armband. The two players on bookings come off, with Madlmayr (6.8) and Gimpl (6.2) replaced by Marco Oberst and Armin Samistch. Rauth (6.7) makes way for Wolfgang Maak upfront.
[HT] Two changes for Moldova: Munteanu (6.9) and Cravescu (7.0) replaced by Evghenie Soltanici and Veaceslav Negai.
 Early corner in this second-half for Austria. Pusca makes two clearances as it goes short to Markoutz. Austria still able to attack here…
 AUSTRIA 2-1 MOLDOVA: Moldova couldn’t clear their lines and Littmann finds Armin Samitch who delivers a great ball over the top that Oliver Markoutz beats his man to and half-volleys past a static Livitcii.
 Moldova make their third change: Alexandru Chislar is on for Mosneaga (6.6).
 Moldova have a corner cleared and Austria break forwards quickly, Dittrich is out wide but he’s 1-on-1 going forwards before Valentin Pusca fouls him on the halfway line. No booking. Surman rants at the match officials.
 Steffen Bergmeister catches his man and goes into the book. The Slovenian referee is making it very hard for Surman to keep his cool. Water bottle kicked over in disgust.
 Two more changes for Moldova: Rusu (6.8) and Platica (6.7) are replaced by Anatoli Soltan and Gheorghe Esanu.
 Attendance today is an amusingly disappointing 71.
 Changes five and six for Austria: On come Manuel Waltl and Arlind Hamzaj for central midfielders Bogner (6.8) and Bergmeister (6.6).
 Soltanici looks creative for Moldova on their right flank. Getting past the Austrian left-back and putting crosses into the box.
 Moldova concede a corner and make the unusual decision to change their ‘keeper in their sixth and final sub. On comes Vitaly Aseev for Livitcii (6.7). First touch for him is a goal kick after Schröder pokes an effort wide.
 Schröder makes a great challenge to nick the ball away from Chislar just as the Moldovan is about to pull the trigger after running on to Soltan’s through-ball.
 Nice passing play from the Austrians as the ball is worked from left-to right before being played through to Wolfgang Maak, but he can’t get a shot away.
 Flag stays down against Chiglu, and he tees it up nciely for Soltan to hit from the edge of the box but he badly screws his shot wide.
 Aseev pushes away Littmann’s shot from just inside the box, and Maak is outmuscled to the rebound. Chance for a third there, no doubt about it. Needed to be sharper. Corner.
 Arlind Hamzaj almost caps off a brilliant Austrian move as he curls it towards the top corner from the edge of the penalty arc but it clips the post and goes wide. Great move, had men queuing up to take a shot.
 Aseev pushes a long-range effort from Hamzaj over the top, but the corner is a poor one and Moldova can counter with Negai and Chislar. It’s two on two as they come over halfway, but Dittrich gets back and tackles Negai. Great workrate.
 Woodwork! René Schröder hits the underside of the bar with a nearpost header from Hamzaj’s corner, and Potirniche clears it away from on the line. Didn’t cross it.
 Final couple of minutes here, and the man of the match has gone to Jonas Littmann. He’s had a great game, setting up the first goal and having a hand in the second. As the PA announcement ends, Soltanici bends one well wide from 20 yards out for Moldova.
 Moldova pushing lots of bodies forward, we’ll have three additional minutes.
[90+3] Twenty seconds left, and Oliver Markoutz should have sealed it. Wolfgang Maak does all the hard work, getting to the goal line and sending the ball across the face of goal where Markoutz is at the far post, but he hits it straight at Aseev who should be picking it out the back of the net.
FULL-TIME: Austria 2-1 Moldova (U19 International Friendly). [PKM]
Winning start for Surman’s youngsters, who were more mature than their opponents today. Moldova came into the came in the last half-hour, but didn’t create too much that will trouble the Austrian staff. They’ll look for a better performance on Monday against a Maltese side that they should beat comfortably.
- 08.09: U19 Friendly Austria v. Malta (Linz)
- 08.10: UEFA Qualifying Netherlands v. Austria (Enschede)
- 10.10: UEFA Qualifying Austria v. Andorra (Enschede)
- 12.10: UEFA Qualifying Austria v. Estonia (Enschede)