AUSTRIAN BUNDESLIGA MATCHDAY 30 – WOLFSBERGER AC 0-4 LASK


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LASK beat Wolfsberger AC for the fourth time this Bundesliga season after a brilliant display in Carinthia on Matchday 30. Despite an uncertain start, the Black & Whites ran out comfortable 4-0 winners thanks to a Johannes Eggestein brace, a delightful strike from Reinhold Ranftl and a late goal from Dominik Reiter. They remain fourth, just behind Sturm Graz, with two games to go.

The Linzers went into this clash knowing they likely needed to beat Wolfsberger AC at the Lavanttal-Arena to stay in the hunt for an automatic European berth. There were two changes to the XI that started the pulsating 3-3 draw with WSG Tirol, with James Holland and Husein Balic replacing the suspended Gernot Trauner and Reiter in the visitors’ preferred 3-4-3 system. Coach Dominik Thalhammer watched the game from the stands after being sent off at the weekend, with Emanuel Pogatetz instead giving the instructions in the dugout.

WAC, a place and a point behind LASK in the table, started in a 4-4-2 formation with a midfield diamond. Boss Roman Stary made four changes to the team that beat Rapid in Vienna on Sunday: Dario Vizinger, Mario Leitgeb, Luka Lochoshvili and Gustav Henriksson started in place of Dejan Joveljic, Kai Stratznig, Tarik Muharemovic and Dominik Baumgartner.

LASK looked uncertain in the opening stages and could have fallen behind in the seventh minute when Alexander Schlager’s misplaced pass went straight to a WAC player – though the goalie made amends by catching Vizinger’s attempted lob. He then made another decisive intervention four minutes later by palming Michael Novak’s piledriver to safety, despite having had his vision obstructed by the crowd of players in front of him.

Having ridden out the early spell of pressure, LASK struck the first blow through Eggestein on the 18-minute mark. Thomas Goiginger received the ball from Ranftl on the right flank and squared it low towards the back post, leaving the unmarked German with a simple tap-in from close range. The visitors looked more like their usual selves after netting the opener, and doubled their lead in the 26th minute courtesy of a beautiful curling strike into the top corner from Ranftl on the edge of the box.

LASK’s ferocious pressing and purposeful attacking could have yielded further goals before the break, but Eggestein’s failure to volley home from a corner and then convert Goiginger’s pass from close range kept Wolfsberg’s deficit at 2-0 heading into half-time. Within a minute of the restart, the ball was in the WAC net again – however, the referee denied Andreas Andrade his first goal of the season for a push on Henriksson by Petar Filipovic in the build-up.

Another powerful Ranftl strike shortly afterwards forced Manuel Kuttin into a diving save and prompted a furious outburst from the WAC goalkeeper, who was far from happy with the room afforded to Ranftl by his own defenders. Kuttin was then almost caught out by Goiginger’s attempt to curl a corner inside the near post – in what would have been almost a carbon copy of his memorable Europa League goal against Rosenborg last season – minutes later. This was fast becoming “ein Spiel auf ein Tor” (one-way traffic), as the German saying goes.

With the game an hour old, Balic was brought down by Guram Giorbelidze inside the box and Eggestein coolly slotted the resultant penalty kick straight down the middle to put his side three goals to the good. The third goal seemed to take the sting out of the game and the tempo slowed slightly in the final half an hour; WAC used all five substitutions in the space of 12 minutes, but the fresh legs were to no avail and LASK added a fourth goal through Reiter to round off a straightforward and pivotal win.

With Sturm Graz holding off a late fightback to beat WSG Tirol 3-2, LASK remain behind Christian Ilzer’s side in the table, but are still very much in with a shout of finishing third and avoiding the Europa League qualifying rounds. Thalhammer’s charges face Salzburg and Rapid in their final two games, while Sturm take on Rapid and Wolfsberg.

By Lee Wingate from The Other Bundesliga (@OtherBundesliga)

The line-ups:

Wolfsberger AC: Kutter; Novak (Schöfl 66‘), Henriksson, Lochoshvili, Giorbelidze; Taferner (Stratznig 74‘), Leitgeb, Liendl (Dieng 74‘), Wernitzig (Jasic 74‘); Rocher, Vizinger (Jovelijic 63‘)

Subs: Kofler; Muharemovic

LASK: Schlager; Filipovic, Holland, Andrade; Ranftl, Grgic, Michorl (Madsen 79‘), Renner (Potzmann 90+1‘); Goiginger (Plojer 90+1‘), Eggestein (Griger 72‘), Balic (Reiter 79‘)

Subs: Gebauer; Ramsebner

Goals: Eggestein 18‘, pen. 61‘, Ranftl 26’, Reiter 90+2’