September 08, 2015

Austria secured a place at next year's European Championship with a 4-1 away win over Sweden on Tuesday, the first time in 18 years that it has successfully qualified for a major tournament.

Martin Harnik grabbed two goals for Austria in a dominant display in Solna. David Alaba opened the scoring with a ninth-minute penalty and Marc Janko also hit the back of the net.

Sweden scored a consolation goal in stoppage time through star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had been battling an injury in the build-up to the game.

Austria qualifies for the tournament in France unbeaten with seven wins and a draw and is already assured of topping Group G.

After the final whistle in Sweden, the Austrians celebrated in front of their fans, waving large Austrian flags emblazoned with the words: ''France, we're coming.''

''It was really unbelievable. A real thank-you to all the fans,'' Janko said.

Austria's last successful qualifying campaign came when it reached the 1998 World Cup, which, like next year's European Championship, was held in France. While Austria did play at Euro 2008, its only appearance in the competition to date, it was awarded a place as a co-host rather than having to qualify.

After a second straight defeat, Sweden is third with 12 points, and on track for the playoffs with two games remaining.

Russia climbed into the second automatic qualifying spot with 14 points by beating 10-man Liechtenstein 7-0 in Vaduz.

Daniel Kaufmann was dismissed for the hosts in the 40th minute, while Artyom Dzyuba scored four of Russia's goals, marking the first competitive hat trick for a Russian player since Roman Pavlyuchenko in 2011.

Alexander Kokorin, Fyodor Smolov and Alan Dzagoev also scored in an emphatic win for the 2018 World Cup host under new coach Leonid Slutsky. Defender Sergei Ignashevich made his 110th appearance, to become Russia's most-capped player.

Also in contention to qualify is fourth-placed Montenegro, one point behind Sweden after a 2-0 win in Moldova.

Stefan Savic put Montenegro ahead before a Petru Racu own goal doubled the visitors' advantage in a game which was played despite mass anti-government protests over recent days in the Moldovan capital Chisinau.

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