Austrian Bundesliga Round 18: FK Austria Wien 2-3 LASK

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Generali Arena, December 12th 2021

LASK headed into the winter break with a thrilling away victory over FK Austria Wien as Lukas Grgic fired in with only 15 minutes remaining to clinch all three points and keep the Linzers aim of a Championship Group finish alive.

In a dramatic game at the Generali Arena, Austria had taken the lead with 19 seconds on the clock via Georg Teigl, but Sascha Horvath and Husein Balic overturned the deficit only to be pegged back by Aleksander Jukic – all within the first half hour. Then, with the game looking to end all-level, Grgic picked up the ball on the edge of the area, beautiful curled into the right of the net, and secured LASK an important victory.

Andi Wieland’s side headed into the final match of 2021 after the highs of Thursday night in Klagenfurt, a 3-0 victory over Finnish champions HJK Helsinki to top their UEFA Europa Conference League group with 16 points and the best defence in the entire competition. But it was back to the Austrian Bundesliga for one last time this year as they started the day in 10th, seven points behind the all-important top six places. In lieu of this, Wieland produced a much-changed line-up to Thursday evening with seven changes to the starting eleven as they looked for a win to chase down the rest of the pack.

Unfortunately for LASK, it only took 19 seconds for the Violets to make their mark on the game with Teigl slotting past Alex Schlager after Jukic’s ball had played the 30-year-old in behind the LASK defence. Jukic was the catalyst again in the 8th minute but dragged the ball across goal to Teigl who couldn’t slot home this time.

The visitors were back in the game on the 14th minute as Horvath confidently fired in a penalty after Eric Martel had handled the ball in the box. Referee Rene Eisner took his time to consult VAR, but the young German defender was correctly adjudged to have handled far away from his body – all level after only a quarter of an hour!

It got even better for LASK after Balic sensationally turned quickly and unleashed a brilliant strike into the back of the net from 20 yards out – his second goal in four days – to put the Linzers into the lead in the 25th minute of a topsy-turvy game.

The drama continued four minutes later as the Favoriten side equalised – Jukic turning from provider to goalscorer and delivering a delightful finish into the top corner after Marvin Martins’ good work down the right. 2-2 after only 29 minutes – a fantastic advert for the Austrian Bundesliga but neither manager would be happy with their defensive performances.

The entertaining contest quietened down after the Viennese equaliser, but Marco Djuricin attempted to change that going into the break with a header over the bar.

The Athletes began the second half with intent as they dominated the Austria Wien goal during the early going. The biggest opportunity fell to Andreas Gruber who was thwarted superbly off the line by Johannes Handl, after Patrick Pentz had parried Thomas Goiginger’s attempt across goal. This was followed quickly by Horvath seeing his effort blocked by Christian Schoissengeyr and Patrick Pentz saving from Balic.

Austria survived the LASK attack early in the half and tried to strike for themselves, but Fischer’s chance was an easy stop for Schlager as the visitors remained the most likely to score in the game.

With 15 minutes remaining they did exactly that and finally found of the back of the net. After two attempts for Husein Balic that were both blocked by the compact Austrian defence, the ball found Grgic on the edge of the area who curled a left-footed shot into the side of the net for LASK’s third goal of the afternoon. A potential vital strike for LASK’s quest for a top six finish.

Johannes Handl almost immediately equalised for the Violets but fluffed his lines in an immense amount of space in the penalty area and directed his attempt directly into the arms of Schlager. In the depths of injury time Alexander Grünwald saw his lunged header go wide in Austria’s last chance of the game.

With that, LASK secured the victory to jump up to ninth in the table – but crucially now only four points off the Championship Group spots with only four games to play.

The Linzers will return to action in 57 days for the Austrian Cup Quarter-Final against Red Bull Salzburg on February 6th, with their return to league action in Pasching on February 12th.

By Simon Clark from The Other Bundesliga (@OtherBundesliga)

The line-ups:

FK Austria Wien: Pentz; Martel, Mühl, Braunöder, Schoissengeyr, Fischer, Teigl (Ohio 82’), Handl (Grünwald 82’), Martins (Ivkic 64‘), Jukic (Demaku 64‘), Djuricin (Fitz 64‘)

Subs: Kos, Keles

Goals: Teigl 1‘, Jukic 29‘

LASK: Schlager; Wiesinger, Potzmann (Flecker 84‘), Grgic (Hong 84‘), Luckeneder (Gruber 46‘), Boller, Renner, Holland, Horvath, Balic (Nakamura 89‘), Goiginger (Raguz 59‘)

Subs: Gebauer, Maresic

Goals: Horvath 14‘ (pen), Balic 25‘, Grgic 76’