VIENNA: Austria substitute Mario Haas scored nine minutes from time to earn the home side a 2-2 draw with Greece in an international friendly on Wednesday that served as a warm-up for next week's Euro 2004 qualifying games.
Both coaches used the match to experiment in the second half as Austria prepare to face the Czech Republic away in a Group Three qualifier on Wednesday, while Greece travel to face bottom club Northern Ireland in Group Six the same day.
After an uninspired first half, Greece coach Otto Rehhagel made five substitutions and the changes had a major impact as his revamped side scored twice in four minutes through Vassilis Tsartas (48 minutes) and substitute Pantelis Kafes (52).
The Austrians replied almost instantly as Brescia's Markus Schopp sent a thundering shot into the net two minutes later and they kept the Greeks in a tight game until Haas equalised.
Austria coach Hans Krankl was happy with the performance ahead of the qualifier with the Czechs next week.
We fell asleep at the beginning of the second half and we paid for it, he said. But after going two goals down we fought back like lions.
Austria are third in Group Three on goal difference behind leaders Holland and the Czech Republic. All three teams have six points but the Austrians have played one more game than their rivals.
Rehhagel was surprised Austria played so aggressively in a friendly. We could have shown more technical flair, however, said the former Bayern Munich manager, and we will need to pay attention with Northern Ireland next week.
Greece need a victory to keep in touch with Group Six leaders Spain, who are top with six points from two games, and second-placed Ukraine (5). The Ukrainians and Greece, who have three points, have both played three matches.
Austrian defender Anton Ehmann, who suffered a head injury early in the second half, was taken to hospital, the Austrian team doctor said. Reuters