Austrian Bundesliga Round 22 – LASK 0–1 FC Red Bull Salzburg

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Raiffeisen Arena Pasching, 20th March 2021

LASK will head into the 2020/21 Championship Round in third position after succumbing to a 1-0 defeat to league leaders Red Bull Salzburg. A moment of magic from Bundesliga top scorer Patson Daka sealed Salzburg all three points in a highly competitive and intense clash at the snowy Raiffeisen Arena. LASK did have the ball in the back of the net, but Husein Balic was deemed to be in an offside position after a wonderful build-up. Dominik Thalhammer’s side battled hard and truly went toe-to-toe but came up just short in a fantastic advert for the Austrian Bundesliga.

The match saw a clash between two of Austria’s in-form sides, and the two finalists of the ÖFB Cup, with both clubs only suffering one defeat in their previous five games. In terms of the table, LASK were seven points behind the leaders ahead of kick-off but with points being halved ahead of the Championship Round a victory would mean the Linzers would begin the Meistergruppe on Salzburg’s tail. LASK manager Dominik Thalhammer switched his side around after their comprehensive 3-0 derby victory against Upper Austrian rivals SV Ried with Phillip Wiesinger coming into the defence.

In the first of four meetings over the next two months between the two clubs, it was Thalhammer’s men who came out of the gate stronger with sustained early pressure.

Despite the positive start, it was the champions who took the lead on the 14th minute with their first chance after Rasmus Kristensen’s whipped cross was met by the stooping head of Patson Daka who manoeuvred the ball into the far corner to score his 20th goal of the season.

The Black-Whites tried to fire back but Johannes Eggestein’s effort was blocked well by Andre Ramalho before Daka uncharacteristically blazed an effort over the bar from close range. The two traded chances with Thomas Goiginger seeing his effort from the edge of the box saved down low by Cican Stankovic.

A moment of contention came in the 34th minute as LASK had the ball in the back of the net after a wonderful team combination, but the linesman adjudicated that Husein Balic was offside – a big let-off for the league leaders after a brilliant piece of play. However, this seemed to kick Salzburg into gear with a big chance for Berisha that Alex Schlager stopped well in the last major chance of the first half.

The intense tempo between the two continued in the second half with an early header for Enock Mwepu blocked well by the LASK backline.

The Linzers continued to press with intensity as they hunted an equaliser and were almost rewarded on the hour mark with Philip Wiesinger drilling the ball from distance and forcing Stankovic into a sublime save to push out wide where Reinhold Ranftl couldn’t capitalise. The resulting corner saw captain Trauner rise highest but Stankovic was there again to stop on the line, quickly followed by Balic being thwarted by the Salzburg keeper.

Despite the huge amount of pressure from LASK, Salzburg were able to craft their own opportunities too with Zambian international Mwepu curling the ball from 25 yards just over the bar. They came inches from clinching the game in the 72nd minute with Kristensen’s shot taking a deflection off young American Brenden Aaronson and clattering off the post – a lifeline for Thalhammer’s men.

The hunt for a second Salzburg goal kept on coming with Zlatko Junuzovic seeing his free-kick deflected over the bar, but as the game entered injury time LASK were trying their utmost to pin Salzburg back but unfortunately tired passes couldn’t reach their designated targets as the league leaders secured a hard-fought win.

By Simon Clark from The Other Bundesliga (@OtherBundesliga)

The line-ups:

LASK: Schlager; Andrade, Trauner, Wiesinger, Renner, Madsen (Michorl 73‘), Holland, Ranftl, Balic (Altunbas 88‘), Goiginger, Eggestein (Reiter 73‘)

Subs: Gebauer, Michorl, Reiter, Ramsebner, Potzmann, Grgic, Altunbas

Red Bull Salzburg: Stankovic; Kristensen, Ramalho, Wöber, Ulmer, Mwepu, Bernede (Bernardo 65‘), Junuzovic, Aaronson (Seiwald 90+1), Daka, Berisha (Adeyemi 73‘)

Goal: Daka 14’

Subs: Mantl, Vallci, Seiwald, Farkas, Adeyemi, Svoboda, Bernardo