Deutschland (has gotta die!)

austria03TWO injury time strikes, one for Turkey on Wednesday, another from the penalty spot last night, mean Austria’s interest in Euro 2008 has already outlasted that of the Swiss. But for a half-decent centre-forward, Austria would already be sitting in the quarter finals, absent-mindedly discussing their own mothers as objects of libidinal investment over gulps of Grüner Veltliner and lemonade.

After Martin Harnik, twice, and Christoph Leitgeb found goalkeeper Artur Boruc’s knackers a formidable obstacle to goal, the competition’s love of quick breakaways favoured instead Roger Guerreiro, who was not only offside, but has only been Polish for a fortnight.

austria04Howard Webb’s innate English sense of fair play then ensured 38-year old Ivica Vastic had the opportunity to equalise and claim the lifetime’s supply of beer on offer from a local brewery to any Austrian goalscorer. Not far from retirement, Vastic’s strike and subsequent prize means he can spend the rest of his days boring his grandkids about his deteriorating liver and the fact that it was he who brought about next week’s six-pointer with a reeling Germany in Vienna.

In the space of two solid displays, Austria have not only eliminated pre-tournament fears and won the backing of the nation, but now have the chance to progress at the expense of the neighbouring favourites. It just couldn’t get any better than this, could it?

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