UEFA Europa Conference League Round of 16 1st Leg: Slavia Praha 4-1 LASK
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Eden Arena March 10th 2022
LASK will have a mountain to climb in the UEFA Europa Conference League Round of 16 after suffering defeat in Prague. Husein Balic’s 67th minute strike had given LASK some hope heading into the final minutes, but Slavia haul of four goals – two goals from Yira Sor, and late finishes from Peter Olayinka and Ibrahim Traore – will prove hard to overcome.
Austria’s last hope in European club competition for the 2021/22 season, LASK headed to the Czech capital on the back of a defeat to Wolfsberger AC in the Austrian Bundesliga. On the other hand, Slavia had won six in a row including a derby victory over rivals Sparta Praha at the weekend. The reigning Czech champions have been regulars in the latter stages of Europe in recent seasons, reaching back-to-back Europa League quarter-finals losing to English giants Chelsea and Arsenal on both occasions – a tough task for Andi Wieland’s men.
In front of a boisterous home crowd at the Sinobo Stadium, LASK had the first chance of the evening with Philipp Wiesinger finding himself in space and seeing his effort deflected wide for a corner.
Unfortunately, Slavia took the lead in the third minute via a fierce effort from the right side of the box by Sor. The Slavia marksman was played in by Alexander Bah and lashed in from the angle, giving Schlager no chance.
The young Nigerian striker proved a thorn in LASK’s side during the early stages, with all of Slavia’s opening chances falling to him. In the 22nd minute, Sor could’ve added his second but somehow fluffed his lines in front of goal.
In the 29th minute Yira Sor added his second after former-LASK man Mads Emil Madsen lofted the ball over the top of the defence, Sor latched on and rounded Schlager and slotted into the empty net.
The Black and Whites enjoyed more possession heading into the half-time break and grew into the game but had plenty to do into the second half.
The battle between Schlager and Sor reared its head again with the 21-year-old striker beating James Holland for pace, but the goalkeeper was there to stop from close range.
Schlager was in the thick of it again with an incident involving Srdjan Plavsic and Daniel Samek, the LASK keeper rushed out of goal to tackle Plavsic, but the ball fell to Samek who lobbed the ball over and onto the woodwork – with Holland there to clear away.
Slavia thrust forward with Ibrahim Traore, who saw his excellent shot cannon off the crossbar and away, LASK’s goal living a charmed life at this point in the game.
The boys from Linz replied by working the ball down the channels all the way to Husein Balic who unleashed an absolute beauty of a strike into the bottom corner for a LASK goal, and some hope for Andi Wieland’s men with over 20 minutes remaining.
The goal saw LASK more confident and striding forward with purpose, with Balic almost surprising Ales Mandous in Slavia’s goal with a quickly-taken effort from the edge of the box.
Unfortunately, Slavia’s immense quality shone through into the final 10 minutes with Peter Olayinka adding a third firing through a crowd at the back post before Ibrahim Traore headed into an empty net for a fourth.
There’ll be a lot of work to do in the second leg at St. Pölten’s NV Arena next Thursday, but LASK have proven time and time again that they can never be counted out in Europe.
By Simon Clark from The Other Bundesliga (@OtherBundesliga)
SK Slavia Praha: Mandous; Holes, Ousou, Bah, Talovierov, Olayinka, Plavsic, Sor (Tecl 69’), Madsen (Samek 56’), Traore, A. Pudil (M. Pudil 46’ (Masopust 81’))
Subs: Kolar, Sirotnik, Kudela, Krmencick
Goals: Sor 3’, 29’, Olayinka 83’, Traore 85’
LASK: Schlager; Wiesinger (Twardzik 80’), Renner, Michorl, Balic (Nakamura 80’), Potzmann, Hong, Holland, Goiginger, Flecker (Schmidt 62’), Boller
Subs: Lawal, Gebauer, Sako, Letard, Luckeneder, Maresic
Goals: Balic 67’