BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Austria have reached the knockout stage of a European Championship for the first time after their 1-0 win over Ukraine on Monday, but coach Franco Foda said his team are now hungry for more.
The Austrians, who had never won a game at the Euros before this tournament, reached the second round of an international tournament for the first time in 39 years, with the team having last made an impact at the 1982 World Cup, reaching the second stage.
“These are the fine moments in football,” Foda told a news conference. “We wanted to make history. That was our target from the first day we got together. It is a historic win and I am proud of the team.”
“From the very beginning you felt that this team wanted to win the game. We should have scored for 2-0 or 3-0 in the first half because we had clear chances,” said the coach.
Marko Arnautovic missed two golden opportunities just before the break, but Austria hung on for a victory that sets up a round of 16 clash against mighty Italy.
Foda refused to criticise his striker, who had missed their second game due to a ban after verbally attacking a North Macedonia player in their opening group win but returned to the lineup on Monday.
“It was an historic win on a memorable day, and you asked me how I rate his performance?” Foda snapped at a journalist. “Unbelievable. I was satisfied with him and he did what I wanted him to do.”
Unbeaten in 30 straight games, the Italians equalled their 82-year-old national record for such a run with a 1-0 win over Wales that saw them top their group. The Italians have also won their last 11 games in a row.
“It looks at first sight that this riddle cannot be solved by us,” Foda said of his team’s next opponents. “But at some point any team is bound to lose, and when we play like today then we have chances to survive against Italy.”
“It is one game and in one game anything is possible. We reached a huge goal, but when you reach the round of 16 then you want to reach the quarter-finals,” Foda said.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Hugh Lawson)