The visitors squandered a number of first-half chances, David Healy missing badly when free on goal in the 26th minute.
Lawrie Sanchez's side were made to pay in the 44th minute when Aufhauser was left unmarked in the area and put his shot beyond Maik Taylor and into the corner.
Sanchez believed Healy's miss was the turning point. "You would have expected David to have put that one away but it was another night when we were out of luck," he said. "We huffed and puffed but got punished just before half-time."
Austria (4-4-2): Macho; Dober, Stranzl, Scharner, Pogatetz; Aufhauser, Schopp, Kiesenebner, Linz; Ivanschitz, Wallner. Substitutes used: Ibertsberger for Dober, h-t; Standfest for Schopp, 55; Gercaliu for Wallner, 77.
Northern Ireland (4-4-2): Taylor (Birmingham City); Duff (Burnley), Craigan (Motherwell), Murdock (Preston North End), Baird (Southampton); Gillespie (Sheffield United), Johnson (Birmingham City), Davis (Aston Villa), Brunt (Sheffield Wednesday); Healy (Leeds United), Quinn (Peterborough United). Substitutes used: Feeney (Luton Town) for Quinn, 57; Jones (Crewe Alexandra) for Healy, 70, Elliott (Hull City) for Brunt, 76.
Referee: A Briakos (Greece).Reuse content