Austrian Katrin Engel top-scored with seven goals, followed by team-mate Isabel Plach with Amondine Webb and Lyn Byl top scoring for the hosts with four apiece.
The first half saw fantastic goalkeeping and defence by Great Britain coupled with aggressive forward play as the much-fancied Austrians struggled to get their game going and led them to take the first time out of the match.
Lyn Byl and British captain Lynn McCafferty successfully double-marked Austrian danger woman Simona Spiridon and two missed penalties by the Austrians compounded their woes with Britain finishing the first half strongly and arguably could have gone in with the scores even at the break.
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The second half saw Austria open up their largest lead of the match at 14-9 thanks to Engel's strikes both from open play and the penalty spot, helped by McCafferty's two-minute suspension.
But strikes by Holly Lam-Moores, Kelsi Fairbrother, Lyn Byl, Nina Heglund, Jessica Guy - who scored her first official international goal - and Marie Gerbron made for an exciting match and nail-biting time for the visitors.
Great Britain will now take on France in their final qualifier in Lille this weekend.
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