Sweden and Austria settle for 1-1 draw in Euro opener

Austria's Marc Janko, right and Andreas Granqvist of Sweden challenge for the ball during the Euro 2016 soccer qualifying group G match between Austria and Sweden.

Hans Punz/AP

Austria and Sweden began their European Championship qualifying group G campaign with a point apiece as a storming start petered out slightly into a 1-1 draw.

David Alaba’s penalty gave Austria an early lead which lasted only five minutes before Erkan Zengin marked his competitive Sweden debut with a thunderous equalizer.

Until the hour mark it was all Austria, but their chances slipped away and the Scandinavian side had the better of the closing stages, without carrying too much of a threat.

Austria’s opener came when Alaba’s cross hit the outstretched hands of Sebastian Larsson, albeit from close range. The Sunderland man protested his innocence but Alaba kept his focus and stroked the spot-kick into the top left corner, sending goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson the wrong way.

Sweden’s response, though, was swift and emphatic. Kim Kallstrom’s free-kick from a deep position was nodded on by Zlatan Ibrahimovic for former Turkey youth international Zengin to chest the ball away from goal, turn and thrash an unstoppable shot inside Robert Almer’s near post.

Zengin went close to a second when he cut in off the left flank and sent another rocket clattering off the top of the crossbar, and Austria’s Marko Arnautovic fired high over to round off a breathless opening 15 minutes.

Ibrahimovic was booked after tangling with Alaba and Martin Harnik in quick succession before Sweden’s defence endured two nervy moments. Martin Olsson’s soft back-pass forced Isaksson into a hurried clearance, then Harnik shot over from a well-worked low corner.

Andreas Granqvist did well to clear Florian Klein’s dangerous cross and Zlatko Junuzovic and Marc Janko combined to waste a good opportunity before Harnik stung Isaksson’s palms.

The keeper then had to push aside Julien Baumgartlinger’s effort as Austria continued to press with half-time approaching.

The pattern continued after the break as Martin Hinteregger nodded Junuzovic’s corner wide, Junuzovic drew a sharp save from Isaksson and Janko headed wide when left clear on goal by a shambolic offside trap.

A rare Swedish attack ended when the hopelessly isolated Jimmy Durmaz ran the ball out of play under pressure. Ibrahimovic then headed Zengin’s cross well wide.

The visitors were given a dangerous free-kick when Hinteregger jumped through the back of Ibrahimovic, but the Paris St Germain striker wasted it with a low shot into the wall.

Sweden’s first corner, after 82 minutes, almost found its way in after Christian Fuchs’ flick-on but Almer kept it out.

The impressive Hinteregger made a crucial last-ditch tackle to prevent Albin Ekdal breaking through as the match finished level.