UNIQA ÖFB Cup Semi-Final – Wolfsberger AC 0 – 1 LASK (AET)

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Lavanttal-Arena, 3rd March 2021

Philipp Wiesinger’s extra-time penalty secured LASK a first UNIQA ÖFB Cup final appearance since 1999 with a hard-fought victory over Wolfsberger AC. The 26-year-old defender smashed home the 97th minute penalty after Reinhold Ranftl had been fouled to catapult LASK into a historic final at Klagenfurt’s Wörthersee Stadion on May 1st and a date with destiny as they look to lift a first major trophy since 1965.

It was a moment of history for both clubs with LASK were hunting down a first final appearance in a generation, whereas Wolfsberger AC were looking for a first-ever final in their history. Dominik Thalhammer brought captain Gernot Trauner and Peter Michorl back after each served suspensions, hoping for a boost after the defeat to TSV Hartberg over the weekend. Wolfsberg head coach Ferdinand Feldhofer surprised many by dropping creative midfielder Michi Liendl from the squad, along with other experienced players Michael Novak and Christopher Wernitznig.

With the stage set, it was Thalhammer’s men who opened on top with Rene Renner forcing a good save from the left by Alex Kofler in the opening five minutes. Kofler was quickly called into action again with the ball making its way to Trauner who saw his volley fire directly at the WAC goalkeeper.

Renner almost became a creator at his own end too with a misdirected, and powerful, defensive header back to Schlager that flew just a matter of centimetres past the upright. An intriguing first-half developed with intensity and a strong midfield battle dominating the contest, with chances a rarity.

On the 40th minute, Peter Michorl swung in a dangerous corner that found an unmarked Trauner in acres of space but the LASK captain couldn’t keep his effort down as it sailed over the bar – a huge opportunity to break the deadlock. Michorl followed this up shortly with a rather tame effort from 20 yards as the first half came to a close.

It took until the 53rd minute for former Georgia youth international Guram Giorbelidze to have the first effort of the second half, a half-chance that flew way over the bar. The Linzers quickly responded with Andres Andrade flicking on a header just by the far post from a Thomas Goiginger free-kick, followed by Dejan Joveljic seeing his header simply saved by Alex Schlager as the two clubs traded attempts in a hard-fought contest.

The attritional nature of the game continued as we entered the final few minutes, with both clubs realising how close they were to a historic final appearance – and LASK pushed and pushed for a potential winning goal.

Another corner, another Trauner chance at goal, but this time the header from the LASK captain ricocheted up into the air and was easily caught by Kofler. Substitute Marvin Potzmann also tested the WAC keeper from distance, but Kofler was more than a match, with Andreas Andrade’s weak effort the final chance of an exhausting battle during regular time. Extra time it was at the Lavanttal-Arena!

The game burst into life in the 96th minute after Jonathan Scherzer tumbled over Reinhold Ranftl in the box and referee Sebastian Gishamer pointed to the penalty spot. Wiesinger stepped up and smashed the ball with all his might into the far left of the goal and LASK took a vital lead in the tie and could taste their final appearance.

Wolfsberg had wind in their sails as they tried to secure an equaliser, but substitute Cheikhou Dieng’s effort was easily sorted by Schlager. New signing Metehan Altunbas came on for his LASK debut as Thalhammer attempted to use all the tricks at his disposal to run down the clock.

The final opportunity came and went for Wolfsberg, who sent in a corner with only seconds remaining which was punched clear, once again, by the big LASK goalkeeper.

With the clock ticking down, Goiginger took the ball into the corner flag and referee Gishamer blew his whistle and LASK booked their date with destiny on May 1st in Klagenfurt.

The line-ups:

Wolfsberger AC: Kofler; Baumgartner, Lochoshvili, Henriksson, Pavelic (Peretz 106’), Scherzer, Stratznig (Schöfl 99’), Taferner, Giorbelidze (Dieng 99’), Joveljic, Vizinger (Röcher 88’)

LASK: Schlager; Andrade, Wiesinger, Trauner, Renner (Potzmann 77‘), Michorl (Madsen 98‘), Balic (Reiter 102‘), Holland, Ranftl, Goiginger, Eggestein (Altunbas 109‘)

Goals: Wiesinger (97‘, pen)