Austrian Bundesliga Round 31 – LASK 2 v 5 Red Bull Salzburg

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Raiffeisen Arena Pasching, 16th May 2021

LASK were beaten by Red Bull Salzburg on a difficult afternoon which saw the club relinquish a top three position in the Austrian Bundesliga, due to Sturm Graz beating Rapid Vienna in the other relevant game of the day.

Johannes Eggestein had opened the scoring, but two quickfire goals from Enock Mwepu and Noah Okafor and a Patson Daka strike just before the break meant there was a mountain to climb for Dominik Thalhammer’s men. A brace from Karim Adeyemi added a fourth and fifth for Salzburg, but the Linzers hit back with a late header by Dominik Reiter. Eggestein also missed a second half penalty and Antoine Bernede was sent off, but in the end, it just wasn’t LASK’s afternoon.

The hosts went into the match sitting in fourth, owing to Sturm Graz’s “half-point” from the league split, and the prospect of potential UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League or UEFA Europa Conference League football all still available. The visitors, on the other hand, had secured their eighth consecutive Austrian Bundesliga title to add to the UNIQA ÖFB Cup that they won against LASK on May 1st. With the Linzers desperately needing a positive result, it meant that Thalhammer’s team were in for a tough task. The only change from the brilliant 4-0 away win vs. Wolfsberger AC on Wednesday saw captain Gernot Trauner return to the starting line-up.

In a superb end-to-end opening, Husein Balic had the best of the early action after being played through by Trauner causing Nico Mantl to close him down and clatter the ball off the incoming LASK man for a goal-kick. The pressure continued on the former Unterhaching goalkeeper and he was saved his blushes only after some heroic defending from Nico Seiwald stopping what would’ve been a certain goal from Eggestein after Mantl had been caught in possession.

Moments later, LASK had deservedly broken the deadlock with Balic playing a sumptuous ball into the path of Eggestein who blasted the ball fiercely into the back of the net for the lead and his 12th goal of a fruitful season.

However, Salzburg had other ideas. Within 15 seconds of the restart, Mwepu had equalised for the Red Bulls after a fortuitous deflection off Alex Schlager found the Zambian in the area to fire home.

From the resulting kick-off, Salzburg won possession once again, Adeyemi manoeuvred his way from the Black-White midfield to unleash Okafor into a one-on-one situation and the Swiss international tucked it past Schlager for Salzburg’s second. A ridiculous two minutes and eight seconds of football.

It could’ve easily been three if it wasn’t for an excellent save down low from Schlager to stop Daka from opening his account for the afternoon. This was followed down at the other end by Reinhold Ranftl almost causing Mantl into a mistake, but the young German was able to clear in the aerial duel.

With seconds of the first half remaining, the Bundesliga’s top scorer Daka scored his 27th goal of the season with a cool finish after being played through by Seiwald – a simple, quick, and incredibly effective move by the visitors. Andre Ramalho’s free-kick almost added a fourth right on the whistle, but Schlager had it covered all the way.

LASK had a mountain to climb heading out for the second half and started positively with Balic shooting over the bar and Eggestein heading wide. Although Salzburg also had decent chances via Adeyemi – which LASK’s defence blocked – and Mwepu seeing his effort from the edge of the box saved by Schlager.

The match was put emphatically out of LASK’s reach in the 67th minute after a long ball forward from defence found the speedy feet of Adeyemi who finished with aplomb for Salzburg’s fourth.

LASK were given a chance to cut the deficit in the 70th minute after Rasmus Kristensen was penalised for a handball in the area, but from the resulting spot-kick Eggestein saw his attempt saved onto the post by Mantl.

To add insult to injury, Salzburg proceeded to head up the other end and score a fifth via Adeyemi who was set up by Daka. Although the champions were forced to play the final 15 minutes with only 10-men after Antoine Bernede saw his marching orders after a second yellow.

The hosts tried to claim a second goal but saw all efforts blocked by the Salzburg defensive wall, and on the counter Daka almost added a sixth but somehow missed with the goal gaping.

With the clock running down, LASK brilliantly added a second goal of the game after Thomas Goiginger’s cross was excellently headed in from close range by Reiter to close out the scoring on a disappointing day for Dominik Thalhammer and the club.

By Simon Clark from The Other Bundesliga (@OtherBundesliga)

The line-ups:

LASK: Schlager; Andrade, Trauner, Filipovic, Renner (Potzmann 69‘), Michorl (Madsen 76‘), Holland (Grgic 60‘), Ranftl, Balic (Reiter 69‘), Goiginger, Eggestein (Griger 76‘)

Subs: Gebauer, Ramsebner

Goals: Eggestein 19‘, Reiter 84‘

Red Bull Salzburg: Mantl; Kristensen (Farkas 76‘), Ramalho, Solet, Bernardo, Bernede, Seiwald, Okafor (Junuzovic 76‘), Mwepu (Aaronson 73‘), Daka (Berisha 85‘), Adeyemi (Ulmer 88‘)

Subs: Stankovic, Wöber

Goals: Mwepu 20‘, Okafor 21‘, Daka 44‘, Adeyemi 67‘, 72‘

Red Card: Bernede 74‘