Austrian Bundesliga Round 26 – LASK 1-1 SK Rapid Wien

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Raiffeisen Arena Pasching, 21st April 2021

Thomas Goiginger’s second half strike wasn’t enough for LASK as they shared the points in their top three Austrian Bundesliga showdown against Rapid Wien. The 28-year-old had put the Linzers ahead on the hour mark with a lovely goal, but Christoph Knasmüllner’s back-post finish eight minutes later meant that Dominik Thalhammer’s side had to settle for a draw after an intense game in the first “English Week” of the Championship Group.

LASK had looked to bounce back from their weekend defeat in Salzburg, with the Championship Group table seeing the Viennese in second place on 26 points and the Black-Whites only two points behind them. Second position is all-important as it secures Champions League qualification round football in the 2021/22 season – a tantalising aim for the club. Head coach Dominik Thalhammer deployed a 3-4-2-1 formation with four changes from the defeat at the Red Bull Arena with Andres Andrade, Rene Renner (suspended with a yellow card), James Holland and Husein Balic replaced by Petar Filipovic, Mads Emil Madsen, Lukas Grgic and Marvin Potzmann in the starting eleven.

And it was replacement Potzmann who had the first attempt of the game with a snap shot collected simply by Richard Strebinger. This was followed in the 11th minute with Peter Michorl coming a matter of inches from connecting in the six-yard box after a well-timed run from Johannes Eggestein, as well as shots over the bar from Philipp Wiesinger and Reinhold Ranftl as the Linzers enjoyed the early chances. The flying start continued with Goiginger’s drilled effort from the right almost surprising Strebinger as the Rapid goalkeeper parried into no man’s land – but no LASK player could capitalise.

However, it was the Viennese side who enjoyed the best effort of the first period in the 32nd minute as Thorsten Schick broke through behind the defensive line, waited and waited for a fellow teammate to appear open, and placed the ball into the path of Christoph Knasmüllner to force a strong save from Alex Schlager. Rapid struck again three minutes later with Greek striker Taxi Fountas turning on a sixpence in the area but seeing his effort deflected by Filipovic into the hands of the Linzer keeper. That was all in the opening 45 minutes as the two clubs cancelled each other out and made sure for an intriguing second half to come.

The half-time team talks from Thalhammer and Didi Kühbauer were clear as the combatants came out battling and trading chances immediately. Firstly, a free-kick from Fountas tested Schlager but he had it covered, followed immediately by a LASK breakaway that saw Eggestein challenge Strebinger with a superb effort. The resulting corners saw a blocked shot from Ranftl and shortly after a Filipovic header as LASK knocked on the door during a strong period. However, it could’ve easily all been in vain as Rapid strode forward and Fountas knocked the ball to Knasmüllner who really should’ve done better with his attempt as he dragged his shot wide.

In the 63rd minute, the LASK pressure finally paid off as Goiginger collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area, dummied excellently by Rapid defender Dejan Ljubicic, steadied his nerve, and caressed the ball into the back of the net for the lead. Mere seconds later, Goiginger could’ve unbelievably doubled the advantage but his difficult effort from the right rolled by the far post and wide.

The lead only lasted eight minutes however after Ercan Kara rose highest from a corner, Schlager failed to collect and caused confusion in the defence to allow Knasmüllner to sneak in at the back post to score.

Both sides lumped the ball forward in hope of creating a match-winning goal scoring opportunity, but the key chance never came, and it was one point apiece.

The next challenge for LASK in the intensive Championship Group schedule will come in Graz on Sunday as they take on fourth place Sturm in the first of their double-header.

By Simon Clark from The Other Bundesliga (@OtherBundesliga)

The line-ups:

LASK: Schlager; Wiesinger, Trauner, Filipovic, Ranftl, Grgic (Holland 73‘), Madsen, Michorl (Sabitzer 86‘), Potzmann (Andrade 62‘), Goiginger, Eggestein (Balic 62‘)

Subs: Gebauer, Ramsebner, Griger

Goal: Goiginger 63‘

SK Rapid Wien: Strebinger; Stojkovic, Hofmann, Barac, Ullmann, Schick, Ljubicic, Petrovic (Grahovac 71‘), Knasmüllner (Kitagawa 85‘), Fountas (Arase 78‘), Kara

Subs: Gartler, Sonnleitner, Ritzmaier, Demir

Goal: Knasmüllner 71‘