Created on 17-10-2012 at 00:00 AM
The back pages of Wednesday’s Austrian papers were screaming with superlatives. “Fairytale comeback", “magnificent" and “outstanding" were the phrases heaped in praise on David Alaba, who contributed a goal and two assists to his country's 4-0 victory over Kazakhstan. Remarkably, it was the 20-year-old’s first competitive match after a three-month lay-off. And what did he think of his display? “Pretty good," the modest youngster said.
A cross from the right led to the opening goal after 24 minutes, and a cross from the opposite flank brought about the second on the hour. David crowned a fine display with a goal of his own to make it 3-0 after 70 minutes, his first strike for his country in his 20th senior appearance. He had earlier hit the post with a 20-yard volley and was generally the star of the show, earning him a standing ovation from the 43,000 at Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna when he was substituted nine minutes from time.
It was as if Austria's player of the year had never been forced to the sidelines. Less than a week earlier, Alaba returned to action for the first time in 12 weeks in Bayern's 2-0 friendly victory over Unterhaching. His last competitive match was fully five months ago on 12 May. In mid-July, he sustained a stress fracture to his left foot during his club’s pre-season training camp in northern Italy, but all that is behind him now.
“I was just thrilled to be back on the field," he said afterwards, admitting he was “not yet 100 percent there. I lack a couple of things: Pace, acceleration, passing accuracy. But that's normal after a long injury." The versatile midfielder thanked his team-mates and Austria boss Marcel Koller for keeping the faith: “They all got right behind me and it's given me a lot of confidence."