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LASK’s hopes of securing a European berth for next season were dealt a blow as they were held to a 3-3 draw by WSG Tirol in a turbulent match at the Raiffeisen Arena. In a game full of twists and turns, the home side fell behind to an own goal before coming from behind to lead 2-1 early in the second period. But two Baden Frederiksen penalties – awarded for fouls by Gernot Trauner, who was sent off for two bookable offences – denied LASK two important points in the race for European football.
Having taken only two points from their previous four league games, LASK trailed third-placed Sturm Graz by a point prior to kick-off. They were up against a WSG Tirol side that had won only one of their five Bundesliga outings – a surprise victory over league leaders Red Bull Salzburg – since beating LASK in the reverse fixture. Dominik Thalhammer, whose side lined up in their customary 3-4-3, made two changes to the team that lost the cup final to Salzburg last weekend, with Grgic and Reiter replacing Holland and Balic respectively.
The game started with a flurry of corner-kicks at both ends, but genuine chances were few and far between until Anselm went close in the 11th minute. The LASK loanee was played in behind the defence but was quickly charged down from both sides and fired a hasty effort straight at shot-stopper Alexander Schlager. The home side carved out their first opportunity a couple of minutes later, Johannes Eggestein heading over the crossbar from a promising position.
With the sun shining brightly and the temperature at 27 degrees, both teams slowed the tempo in the ensuing minutes and – a half-chance from Thomas Goiginger in the six-yard box aside – glimpses of goal were a rarity. But halfway through the first period, Petar Filipovic scored an own goal out of the blue. Anselm’s bouncing volley was heading straight through to Schlager, only for Filipovic to throw himself at the ball and head past his own keeper into the net.
However, Eggestein restored parity in the 32nd minute with a nice shot on the turn to end his goal drought – he had not scored since 27 February. The equaliser marked a turning point in the match and LASK looked comfortable for the remainder of the first period, but apart from a few half-chances, they did not seriously threaten the WSG goal again before the break.
With European football next season on the line, LASK came racing out of the blocks and almost took the lead from a quickly-taken free-kick in the opening minutes of the second half. The ball was played in towards Dominik Reiter, who could not steer his shot on target. The hosts went even closer barely 60 seconds later when Goiginger picked out Eggestein with a lovely cross, only for Ferdinand Oswald to claw his powerful header away from the top corner.
With the pressure mounting, it was only a matter of time before LASK took the lead – and they did so in style in the 54th minute. Goiginger gathered the ball on the left flank and sidestepped several opponents before curling a lovely effort into the far top corner. Oswald managed to get a hand to it but could not prevent the ball from hitting the back of the net. James Holland and Husein Balic replaced birthday boy Peter Michorl and Eggestein shortly afterwards.
However, WSG were offered a route back into the game with 20 minutes left when they were awarded a very soft penalty for a challenge on Pranter by Trauner. Baden Frederiksen stepped up and fired the ball past Schlager and into the bottom right corner to draw his side level. Trauner, though, atoned for his earlier foul by latching on to Holland’s long throw and steering a looping header in off the post to make it 3-2 with 11 minutes to go.
But there was more drama to come in a pulsating finale as Trauner was sent off for a second bookable offence seconds later. The central defender brought down Baden Frederiksen in the box and the prolific Dane produced another emphatic spot-kick to level the score at 3-3.
Five minutes of stoppage time did not yield a winner and the whistle blew with the scores all square. Thalhammer was sent off for a second bookable offence after the final whistle for protesting to the referee and he will not be in the dugout for the midweek game against Wolfsberger AC. LASK will surely need to win in Carinthia to keep their hopes of a third successive European campaign alive. They still occupy fourth spot but are now level on points with Sturm Graz after they lost to Salzburg on Sunday.
By Lee Wingate from The Other Bundesliga (@OtherBundesliga)
LASK: Schlager; Andrade, Trauner, Filipovic; Grgic (Madsen 77‘), Michorl (Holland 60‘), Ranftl, Renner; Reiter (Griger 84‘), Eggestein (Balic 60‘), Goiginger
Subs: Ramsebner, Potzmann, Gebauer
Goals: Eggestein 33‘, Goiginger 54‘, Trauner 79‘
Red cards: Trauner 82‘
WSG Tirol: Oswald; Gugganig, Schnegg, Koch, Behounek; Petsos, Rieder (Buchacher 90+2‘), Celic, Rogelj (Naschberger 64‘); Baden Frederiksen (Smith 89‘), Anselm (Pranter 65‘)
Subs: Gölles, Beccari, Hager
Goals: Filopovic o.g. 24‘, Baden Frederiksen pen. 70‘, pen. 84‘