Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeFootballDecision postponed: LASK denies Sturm premature championship celebrations

Decision postponed: LASK denies Sturm premature championship celebrations

A showdown on the final matchday. In a turbulent match, league leaders Sturm Graz and LASK drew 2-2. As Salzburg won their match against Hartberg, the championship will be decided in a long-distance duel on the final matchday

Sturm Graz still have to wait to be crowned champions. The Bundesliga leaders only managed a 2:2 (1:1) draw at LASK on Sunday, reducing their lead over Salzburg to two points. The decision in the title duel will therefore be made in the final round next Sunday. Sturm will then host Klagenfurt Austria in Graz and still hold all the cards to be crowned champions for the first time since 2011

In Linz, only a draw was possible for the cup winners. After Flecker (20′) had put the Upper Austrians ahead, Kiteishvili (30′) took advantage of a mistake by the LASK backline to equalize. The in-form Georgian added his ninth goal of the season shortly after the break (48′). Ilzer’s team seemed to be on course for the title before Ljubicic (77′) scored a foul penalty to secure a deserved draw for Linz. Sturm hit the crossbar in the final.

LASK had won four out of five games under interim coach Darazs before kick-off, so the task for Sturm was a big one. “SK Sturm will be the new champions” was nevertheless proclaimed on a banner by the Graz fans before kick-off. Ilzer had to do without two key players: Stankovic was suspended and Affengruber was plagued by muscular problems. Geyrhofer started in central defensive midfield, Schnegg in the back four. The suspended Horvath was absent for LASK, with Talowjerow taking his place in midfield

Two-man start

The 18,500 spectators saw little flow on both sides and plenty of tackles. Both teams were careful not to concede anything and did not make any mistakes at first. Sturm made their first dangerous appearance in the opposition penalty area, Böving failing to beat LASK keeper Lawal after a turbulent scene (13′). The individual class of two attacking players then gave Linz the lead.

Usor outwitted Prass and Schnegg on the touchline and fed Taoui, who in turn allowed Lavalee to run into space and set up Flecker. Shortly afterwards, the goalscorer was almost on the ball again with the next pass from Taoui. However, the Linz backline risked too much in the middle of the high phase and gave Graz the equalizer.

Sturm once again disrupted the build-up play early on with high pressing, Lawal’s short pass to Talowjerow was the worst possible move. Kiteishvili won the leather from the Ukrainian and completed the move in conjunction with Biereth. This had an effect on LASK, but the home side still had one chance. Ziereis was completely free to head home from a corner kick, but missed the target by a wide margin (34′).

Sturm come out of the break like a raid

After the break, it wasn’t long before the Graz fans were able to cheer again. Kiteishvili was again the decisive man, the playmaker scoring with technical finesse from the edge of the box. Horvat had previously wrestled the ball away from Bello on the verge of foul play and thus initiated Sturm’s attack

LASK looked for an answer and threw more and more energy forward. Stojkovic shot just wide before Sturm keeper Jaros turned a Ziereis header over the bar (72′). Graz, who were becoming increasingly passive, finally conceded the 2:2. Lavalee hit Ljubicic on the shin in the penalty area and the fouled player converted the penalty himself to score his eighth goal in the Champions League. Ilzer responded with a triple substitution, which almost led to success: “Joker” Jatta rose high in the 89th minute after a corner kick, but only hit the underside of the crossbar.



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