England have only lost to Austria once on home soil. Toni Fritsch scored the deciding goal of a 3-2 win against Alf Ramsey’s ambitious side in 1965, but the game wasn’t transmitted live and his late winner was never shown on the ITV highlights show that evening, a powerful Wembley rendition of God Save The Queen taking its place. This was no nationalistic fit of pique, though. These were the early days of highlights packages, the show was cobbled together at the very last minute, and in the rush, an inexperienced editor selected the wrong strip of film. (The national anthem used to be sung after the game, which makes the error more understandable, if not particularly less egregious.)
Never mind, Fritsch got his plaudits back home. He was nicknamed Wembley-Toni for the two goals he scored that night, turning a 2-1 deficit into a famous win, only the fourth by a foreign team on English soil (after the Republic of Ireland, Hungary and Sweden). Six years later, he was signed up by the Dallas Cowboys as a place kicker, going on to get a Super Bowl ring in his very first season in the NFL. But we digress.
Austria’s last win over England was in Vienna in 1979. ITV showed this too, and were rewarded with a 4-3 thriller. Kevin Keegan, Steve Coppell and Ray Wilkins scored for Ron’s 11, while Austria’s 70th-minute winner was scored by Bru
… we joke of course. Bruno Pezzey got it, and as the game was transmitted live, his goal was there for the entire network to see, even those watching, presumably celebrating, in the Scottish, Grampian and Ulster regions.
The teams last met in Vienna in 2007, Peter Crouch scoring the only goal. Their last visit here was another 1-0 defeat, Frank Lampard scoring a penalty in 2005. Gareth Southgate’s side will be hoping to keep this nice little run going, having won their last six friendlies, though will be wary of the visitors, who have won eight of their last ten friendlies themselves, and were on a great unbeaten sequence of six wins and two draws in Nations League and World Cup qualifiers, before getting trounced 4-0 at home by Denmark in their last outing in March.
Tonight’s game kicks off at 8pm BST. A chance presents itself for Jesse Lingard to shine, in the absence of the Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United contingent, and maybe prove Gareth Southgate wrong for leaving him out of the final 26 for the Euros. It’s on!
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