JONATHAN WALTERS grabbed himself a first international brace for the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday evening . . . but was ultimately left with a sour taste in his mouth as Austria denied him and his teammates a crucial World Cup Qualifying victory in Dublin.
The Stoke City star opened his account shortly before the 30-minute mark with a coolly dispatched spot-kick, levelling matters after midfielder Martin Harnik had fired the visitors into the lead just eleven minutes in.
Walters completed a superb first-half comeback for the hosts, whose side also included Marc Wilson, with a brilliantly executed taken header right on the stroke of the interval, after Potters team-mate Glenn Whelan had picked him out inside the penalty area.
Giovanni Trapattoni’s men looked on course to elevate themselves up and above the Austrians into second place in Group C, however, it wasn’t to be as David Alaba’s stoppage time strike stunned the majority of the 50,000 spectators inside the Aviva Stadium and secured the visitors a point.
Meanwhile, Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu both played starring roles for the United States in the early hours of Wednesday morning, as they took another step towards qualification for the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil.
The pair started for the USA in their latest CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier in Mexico, and impressed in a dogged and determined backline that frustrated the much-fancied hosts throughout the encounter.
Whilst offering little as an attacking force, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side stood firm to thwart a potent Mexican side, who were ultimately forced to settle for a third draw in their last three outings.
The goalless draw concludes a productive few days for the nation, having also recorded a crucial 1-0 win against Costa Rica last Friday evening.
The States go into June’s vital triple-header against Jamaica (Kingston, June 7), Panama (Seattle, June 11) and Honduras (Utah, June 18) sitting in third place in the standings – a spot which would secure them automatic qualification.
January acquisition Brek Shea was introduced from the bench for the final ten minutes of the game in Azteca – picking up his 16th senior cap in the process.
Elsewhere, Scotland’s slim hopes of qualification officially ended as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against Serbia at a snow-swept Karadorde Stadium, in Novi Sad.
The result leaves Charlie Adam and co. bottom of Group A on just two points, 14 behind second place Croatia, who are now in a two-way battle with Belgium for top spot.
Charlie Adam came off the bench at half-time, and despite an impressive 45 minute showing, a brace from Heerenveen’s Filip Duricic was enough to inflict a fourth straight defeat upon the Tartan Army.