Austrian Bundesliga Round 4: LASK 1 – 3 Sturm Graz

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Raiffeisen Arena, 15th August 2021

LASK were left to rue missed chances as they succumbed to a 1-3 home defeat against Sturm Graz. Kelvin Yeboah and two breakaway goals from Manprit Sarkaria clinched it for the visitors, with Peter Michorl’s effort in the 86th minute gave LASK a chance before Sarkaria’s injury time goal sealed the three points for Sturm. Earlier in the game both Michorl and Florian Flecker had struck the woodwork for LASK, but unfortunately it just wasn’t to be for Dominik Thalhammer’s side on the day.

In the 150th meeting between LASK and Sturm Graz in the Bundesliga, the two clubs started the day in the top four. LASK had wind in their sails after their heavy victory in Europe mid-week against Vojvodina – and kept the same starting eleven from that comprehensive win in Klagenfurt. Of course, this meant manager Thalhammer kept to his trusty 3-4-3 formation in hopes of a similar performance.

In front of a sold-out and loud 6,000 capacity Raiffeisen Arena, and temperatures reaching upwards of 33 degrees pitch side, Alexander Schlager was the first goalkeeper called into action after needing to clear with one hand from Andreas Kuen’s delivery into the box. The visitors stayed on top during the opening exchanges with Jakob Jantscher’s free kick headed over by Gregory Wüthrich.

LASK didn’t take long to almost make their mark with Mamoudou Karamoko bursting through the middle and spreading the ball to Thomas Goiginger who was thwarted with a great closing-down save by Jorg Siebenhandl. Karamoko was the focal point again in the 20th minute but was fouled on the edge of the area by Jusuf Gazibegovic – Peter Michorl stepped up and beautifully flicked his free-kick over the wall and off the outside of the post, a big let-off for Sturm. Michorl followed with another free kick that was lofted just wide of the upright. In injury time, Michorl’s corner was headed over the bar by Petar Filipovic as the two teams went into the break level.

As we entered the second half, LASK began well with Rene Renner surprising Siebenhandl with an impromptu shot from the left that fooled almost everybody, apart from the Sturm keeper who was there to tip away. Although, despite the relative dominance, it was Sturm Graz that had the ball in the back of the net in the 53rd minute via David Affengruber’s head – but luckily for the Thalhammer’s side it was adjudged to have been offside.

With that let-off still fresh in the minds of the LASK players, they bombed forward with a bevy of chances. Firstly, Goiginger unleashed an effort directly at Siebenhandl, then a brilliant effort by Flecker who came inches from his first goal for the club, but his attempt came off the bottom of the left post and away, then Philipp Wiesinger headed over the bar – Sturm survived again.

But LASK were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal as Christian Ilzer’s men took the lead. Yeboah latched onto a ball forward, knocked away the challenge of Maresic and coolly slotted into the near-post to put the Grazers ahead – his third goal of the season.

Immediately LASK looked for an equaliser and tried via the right foot of Michorl, but his free kick was simply saved. Thalhammer played his cards with a triple substitution as Marko Raguz, Hyun-seok Hong and Keito Nakamura all came on with less than 20 minutes remaining.

Unfortunately for LASK, Sturm Graz added a second with Sarkaria knocking in with only seven minutes remaining after Ivan Ljubic had found an extra yard on the defence and played it into the newcomer from Austria Wien – although a long VAR check was made with Anderson Niangbo almost interfering with play from a clear offside position.

But the hosts weren’t going down without a fight and finally scored via the impressive Michorl who lashed in from outside the area for a grandstand finish at the Raiffeisen Arena. Unfortunately, deep into injury time as LASK chased the game, Sturm broke away again and Sarkaria’s excellent solo effort secured all three points for the visitors.

By Simon Clark from The Other Bundesliga (@OtherBundesliga)

The line-ups:

LASK: Schlager; Wiesinger, Filipovic, Letard (Maresic 33‘), Renner, Michorl, Grgic (Hyun-Seok 72‘), Flecker, Balic (Nakamura 72‘), Goiginger, Karamoko (Raguz 72’)

Subs: Gebauer, Potzmann, Boller

Goal: Michorl 86’

SK Sturm Graz: Siebenhandl; Gazibegovic, Affengruber, Wüthrich, Dante, Kuen (Ljubic 61‘), Hierländer, Gorenc-Stankovic, Kiteishvili (Prass 90’), Yeboah (Niangbo 78’), Jantscher (Sarkaria 61‘)

Subs: Schützenauer, Jager, Geyrhofer

Goals: Yeboah 66‘, Sarkaria 83‘, 90+4‘