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FOOTBALL

Austria stun Russia in Euro 2016 qualifier

Austria took control at the top of Group G with a surprising win over Russia in a Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday evening.

Austria stun Russia in Euro 2016 qualifier
Photo: APA/ROBERT JAEGER
After the fourth round of qualifying matches, Austria demonstrated that even with its top player, David Alaba, sidelined possibly until the end of the year with a knee ligament injury, it could surprise the football world with a decisive win over group favourite Russia.
 
In front of 47,500 spectators at the Ernst Happel Stadium, the first big chance for Austria came with a disallowed goal from substitute Rubin Okotie, who thought he had put Austria ahead in the 71st minute.
 
The ball hit defender Igor Akinfeev's leg and seemed to just cross the line before the Russian keeper pulled it back into play. 
 
After quickly shutting down Russia's counter-attack, Okotie was able to slam home a cross from teammate Martin Karnik, in a play which many television viewers believed showed Okotie was offside.  The goal was allowed.
 
"The first goal was in, so if the second was offside, maybe justice was done," Okotie, who plays for TSV Munich in the German second division, told Austrian broadcaster ORF. 
 
With ten points from four games, Austria are currently on course for the European Championship finals in 2016 in France.  World Cup participants Russia, however, have only five points on the board.
 
Austria are now unbeaten in nine straight matches since October 2013.

"The group table looks very good but it's too early to draw any conclusions," Austria coach Marcel Koller said.

Austria has never qualified for a European Championship though it took part as a co-host with Switzerland in 2008.

Austria and Brazil will play an international friendly match at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion on Tuesday, 18th November.

The teams have played twice before but not since 1978 when Brazil beat Austria 1 – 0. Brazil also beat Austria 3 – 0 in 1958.

 

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RUSSIA

Austria slams Russia over cancelled Vienna-Moscow flight

Austria criticised Russia on Thursday after it refused to allow an Austrian Airlines flight to be rerouted to avoid Belarusian airspace, resulting in the Vienna-Moscow service being cancelled.

Austria slams Russia over cancelled Vienna-Moscow flight
(Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Austria’s foreign ministry said Russia’s refusal to allow the route change was “absolutely incomprehensible”, urging it “not to artificially impede free air traffic between Russia and Europe”.

“It is in the interests of both Austria and Russia that all flights to and via Russia can continue to be carried out without any problems,” the ministry said in a statement to AFP.

Russian authorities had ‘not approved’ route change

Austrian Airlines cancelled the Vienna-Moscow flight on Thursday, saying Russian authorities had not approved a route change allowing the plane to avoid Belarusian airspace. The airline said it had suspended flights over Belarusian airspace in line with a recommendation by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), making a route change for the Vienna-Moscow flight necessary.

“A change in flight routes must be approved by the authorities.

“The Russian authorities did not give us this permission,” the airline said in a statement to AFP.

It added it was not yet clear if the next flight would be able to take place. A Moscow-Vienna flight is scheduled for Friday.

Passengers on the cancelled flight were rebooked, the airline said.

Russia’s transport ministry told AFP that it had “no comment for now”.

Global fury

Belarus sparked global fury by diverting an Athens-to-Vilnius Ryanair plane on Sunday and arresting an exiled dissident in Minsk.

In response, EU leaders on Monday decided to ban Belarusian carriers from European airspace and airports as well as recommending that EU carriers should also avoid Belarusian airspace.

Austrian Airlines is part of Germany’s Lufthansa group. Lufthansa confirmed to AFP that all its airlines were “currently avoiding Belarusian airspace”. Scheduled flights to Moscow and Saint Petersburg continued, it said.

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