TEENAGE super sub Ben Woodburn achieved hero status in Cardiff tonight, scoring on his international debut to keep Wales’ hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup alive.

The 17-year-old Liverpool striker, who last year became the Anfield club’s youngest ever scorer, came off the bench to smash home the winner in a huge 1-0 win over Austria in Group D.

Wales were desperate for three points in the capital and after Woodburn’s 74th-minute strike they are now just two behind second-placed Republic of Ireland with Serbia a further two clear of them.

There are now three games left and tonight’s triumph means Wales remain firmly in the hunt for one of the top two places.

It took less than two minutes for the home fans to raise the noise levels inside the Cardiff City Stadium – and you can probably guess why.

Gareth Bale, suspended for the draw in Serbia, had an early sight of goal but the Real Madrid star scuffed his right-footed effort.

Soon after that West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic needed to be alert to clear a dangerous Aaron Ramsey free-kick with James Chester lurking in the six-yard box.

As for Ramsey, the midfielder was keen to show that the criticism which came his way following Arsenal drubbing by Liverpool was somewhat over the top.

And he fashioned an opening on nine minutes, only to send a left-foot shot over the Austria crossbar.

The Austrians got into the game more after that and in Arnautovic and David Alaba they had two men who Wales knew could cause them problems.

The duo combined 16 minutes in and had it not been for a perfectly timed David Edwards challenge then Alaba may have been in on goal.

Then it was Arnautovic’s turn to trouble the hosts, although this time it was Wales, and keeper Wayne Hennessey in particular, causing problems for themselves.

Hennessey rushed out of his goal to challenge Arnautovic for the ball and, having lost out, only a deflection on the resulting cross prevented the ball going into the danger zone.

All of a sudden Wales had gone into their shell as the visitors started to click.

Kevin Danso replaced Sebastian Prodl at centre-back after the former had been booked for a lunge on Sam Vokes – James Chester was also cautioned for a previous offence.

The 18-year-old Danso didn’t have the best of starts.

His blocked clearance fell kindly to Ramsey and his chip bounced back off the crossbar.

However, the referee had already blown for a foul on the Austrian replacement.

At the other end, a superb pass from Julian Baumgartlinger found that man Arnautovic, but with only Hennessey to beat he curled his effort over the top.

Another chance then fell to Austria midfielder Marcel Sabitzer whose attempt on goal was caught by Hennessey.

The home supporters couldn’t have argued if the away side had gone into half-time in front, and they so nearly did when Sabitzer fired just past the far post from an angle.

Wales boss Chris Coleman obviously felt a change was required and he swapped Andy King for Jazz Richards at the break.

Thankfully for Wales, Austria didn’t start the second half like they had ended the first, and it was the home side who went closest just after the interval.

First, a close-range Ramsey effort was blocked and then Bale, in space some 20 yards out, saw his left-foot curler turned away by keeper Heinz Lindner.

Back came Austria and, after Martin Harnik went down following an off-the-ball incident involving Wales skipper Ashley Williams, Martin Hinteregger’s low cross is blocked for a corner.

Ramsey then saw a drilled shot deflect just past the far post and out for a corner, but somehow the officials didn’t see the touch off the Austrian player.

Both defences were certainly showing anything but 100 per cent solidity and Harnik was afforded too much space by the Welsh back four, only to waste his opportunity.

That proved to be crucial as, having come on for his international debut five minutes earlier, Woodburn produced the one real moment of magic on the night.

The teenager showed absolutely no nerves as he strode forward and unleashed a stunning shot with his right foot that flies past the keeper and into the corner of his net.

However, four minutes later and Austria nearly levelled.

Arnautovic cut in from the left and must have thought he had beaten Hennessey, but Williams put his head in the way and saved the day.

It was all about holding on for Wales in the closing stages, although Hal Robson-Kanu, who had come on at the same time as Woodburn, could have sealed it.

He broke clear and, despite having teammates up in support, went for glory but blasted over.

And after Bale's spectacular overhead kick forced Lindner to tip over, the West Brom striker went even closer deep in stoppage time with a driven effort which struck the base of the post.

But it didn’t matter as seconds later the referee blew the whistle to huge cheers from the Wales fans.

Russia 2018 is very much still on for Coleman’s troops.

It’s Moldova next on Tuesday.

Wales: Hennessey, Gunter, Richards (King 45), B Davies, Chester, A Williams (capt), Lawrence (Lawrence 69), Ramsey, Bale, Edwards, Vokes (Robson-Kanu 69).

Subs not used: A Davies, Evans, Ampadu, Ledley, Lockyer, Collins, J Williams, Ward, Watkins.

Booked: Chester

Austria: Lindner, Lainer, Dragovic, Prödl (Danso 27), Hinteregger, Arnautovic, Baumgartlinger, Alaba, Ilsanker, Sabitzer (Gregoritsch 78), Harnik (Janko 81).

Subs not used: Wöber, Schaub, Kuster, Bauer, Grillitsch, Hierländer, Laimer, Bachmann.

Booked: Prodl, Baumgartlinger

Referee: Ovidiu Hategan (Romania)

Attendance: 32,633