15/11/1995 Belfast Austria 5-3 Michael O’Neill (2), Iain Dowie pen, Barry Hunter, Phil Gray
Alan Fettis, Steve Lomas, Nigel Worthington, Barry Hunter, Colin Hill, Neil Lennon, Keith Gillespie, Michael O’Neill, Iain Dowie (Jimmy Quinn), Phil Gray (Alan McDonald), Michael Hughes
A crowd of 8,400 enjoyed an eight goal thriller as Northern Ireland defeated Austria 5-3 at a wind and rain lashed Windsor Park. So bad was the weather than the commentary box on the South Stand containing the late George Best and Jackie Fullerton, began to leak leaving the commentators cold and wet! This match came on the back of scoring four goals in Northern Ireland’s previous match against Liechtenstein.
The Austrians had a chance of qualifying for Euro ’96, and decided on all-out attack from kick-off.
Neil Lennon was the catalyst at the heart of the Northern Ireland midfield providing chances for both Iain Dowie and Phil Gray. On the flanks Michael Hughes and a young Keith Gillespie helped the cause by giving the Austrian full-backs a torrid time.
The first goal however, did not materialise until the 27th minute when a Hughes cross reached Dowie who knocked the ball into the path of the on-coming Michael O’Neill who shot with his left foot into the net.
It wasn’t long until Northern Ireland doubled their advantage when Dowie was upended in the penalty box and in his usual style smashed the resulting penalty past Austrian goalkeeper Michael Konsel.
The half-time whistle brought the players much relief from the poor conditions with Northern Ireland 2-0 in front.
Northern Ireland took a 3-0 lead after 53 minutes when debutant Barry Hunter knocking in the ball from a Hughes cross. Austria pulled a goal back from Markus Schopp, but Northern Ireland restored the three goal cushion shortly after via a Phil Gray goal.
Christian Stumpf knocked in a rebound to reduce the deficit six minutes later but in the 78th minute O’Neill chipped his second goal after Hughes had raced almost the full length of the pitch to put him clear. Austria scored a consolation goal nine minutes from time through Arnold Wetl.