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Nigerians hold Austrians to extend Euro co-hosts winless run

SoccerNews in European Championships 28 May 2008

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Euro 2008 co-hosts Austria's hopes of a welcome boost ahead of the finals which begin on June 7 were erased here on Tuesday as they were held 1-1 by African Nations Cup quarter-finalists Nigeria.

The draw means the Austrians are without a win in five matches since they beat Ivory Coast 3-2 in October last year.

It looked good for the Austrians – who will be appearing in their first major finals since the 1998 World Cup finals where they went out in the first round – as they took the lead in the 12th minute.

Roman Kienast was the unlikely scorer as the striker who plays for the unfashionable yet phonetically friendly Norwegian side Ham-Kam struck for his first goal for the national side – whether that is enough for him to make the final 23 man squad on Wednesday remains to be seen.

The Nigerians, though, showed admirable intestinal fortitude and levelled seven minutes later as Kalu Uche shot home following a 1-2 with veteran strike partner Yakubu Aiyegbeni, though, the latter looked to be in an offside position.

Austrian forward Erwin Hoffer went agonisingly close shortly after the break but his shot cannoned off the post while Roland Linz, who had created their goal, had a header saved.

The greatest roar of the night in a match played in extremely hot temperatures came when 38-year-old Austrian veteran Ivica Vastic – who was part of the Austria squad in the 1998 World Cup finals – came on as a substitute in the second-half.

The Austrians have just one more warm-up match prior to the championships, against minnows Malta here on Friday.

Austria open their campaign against Croatia in Vienna on June 8, follow it up against debutants Poland on June 12 in Vienna and round off their first round matches at the same venue against Germany on June 16.

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