CARDIFF, UK: Teenager Ben Woodburn enjoyed a dream international debut as he fired Wales to a 1-0 victory over Austria in Cardiff on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to bolster their chances of reaching next year’s World Cup.
The 17-year-old Liverpool striker drilled home the winner just four minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute to keep Wales unbeaten in qualifying and four points adrift of Group D leaders Serbia.
Chris Coleman’s side also cut the gap to second-placed Republic of Ireland, held 1-1 in Georgia, to two points with three matches to play as they attempt to reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958.
“The ball just came out of the air and I just tried to shoot it as quickly as I could,” Woodburn told Sky Sports, after becoming Wales’ second youngest goal scorer in history at 17 years and 322 days, behind only Gareth Bale.
“It’s a great feeling, I couldn’t ask for much more from the fans. I won’t sleep tonight.”
Bale returned from suspension at the Principality Stadium after missing the 1-1 stalemate with Serbia in June, the fifth time in sixth qualifiers Wales had been held to a draw.
Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey fired a left-footed drive narrowly over inside the opening 10 minutes, while Marko Arnautovic curled over with just Wayne Hennessey to beat after a terrific through-ball from Julian Baumgartlinger.
Austria defender Martin Hinteregger bravely blocked a firmly struck effort from Ramsey early in the second period before Heinz Lindner palmed behind a vicious, dipping shot from Bale.