NATIONS LEAGUE: Northern Ireland denied by late Austrian strike

Northern Ireland's Corry Evans celebrates after scoring an equalising goal against Austria
Northern Ireland's Corry Evans celebrates after scoring an equalising goal against Austria

Lastest: Northern Ireland 1 Austria 2

Northern Ireland were denied their only point of the UEFA Nations League Pool B3 campaign by an injury time goal which gave Austria a 2-1 win.

It saw Michael O'Neill's side finish pointless at the bottom of the group - their relegation had already been confirmed before kick-off - and it was their fourth straight loss at Windsor Park.

Gareth McAuley returned to Northern Ireland's starting line-up as O'Neill made four changes for their final Nations League match against Austria.

McAuley replaced Craig Cathcart in the centre of defence, while Trevor Carson was named in goal ahead of Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

There were also starts for Jordan Jones and Niall McGinn, with Gavin Whyte dropping to the bench and Jamal Lewis not in the squad.

Austria striker Marko Arnautovic was named as a substitute as he continues to manage a knee problem, while the versatile David Alaba started on the left wing in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

A deflection almost gave Northern Ireland a goal six minutes in. Liam Boyce had been quick to make an impact in the game with his imposing physique but after he was dispossesed the ball fell for Corry Evans, whose first time shot bobbled up off a defender before being touched over by the back-peddling Heinz Lindner.

Alaba curled a free-kick just over at the other end after being brought down by George Saville, while Michael Gregoritsch's long-range shot was touched behind for a corner in an uncertain moment for Trevor Carson.

With McAuley back in the team, Northern Ireland were looking to profit from set-pieces, but a Steven Davis' delivery looking for the Rangers man was cut out before the following corner somehow evaded several Northern Ireland players as it sailed across the face of goal.

The game settled down into a midfield battle as the half wore on, with chances at a premium for both teams.

Saville won a free-kick on the edge of the area when fouled by Xaver Schlager a minute before half-time, but McGinn's free-kick curled inches wide.

Austria struck just four minutes into the second half.

Davis failed to cut out a cross from the left and Schlager darted in front of Saville to fire a low shot across goal and into the bottom right-hand corner.

The goal brought Northern Ireland to life.

They were half-hearted shouts for a penalty when Jonny Evans tumbled over under the attentions of Aleksandar Dragovic.

McGinn then drove towards goal and teed up Davis, but his shot was blocked by Dragovic before McGinn fired over from the rebound.

And they were level in the 56th minute. Jordan Jones slipped the ball into the path of Corry Evans, who took a touch before striking a low shot which deflected off Martin Hinteregger to beat Lindner - Evans' first goal for Northern Ireland in eight years.

Schlager could and perhaps should have doubled his tally in the 66th minute when he beat the offside trap to get a toe on Gregoritsch's shot, but he diverted it wide with the goal at his mercy.

Alaba was the next to go close, cutting in from the right and hitting a shot which bounced back off the stanchion behind the goal.

Arnautovic was brought on for the last 20 minutes and he was quickly involved, teeing up Alaba who fired over from the edge of the area.

Northern Ireland responded, with Saville firing just wide despite being off-balance.

But the Austrians had the final say when, in stoppage time, replacement Lazaro, scored the winning goal.