LASK gained an advantage in the battle to reach the group stage of the Europa League. The people of Linz celebrated on Thursday with a 2-1 (2-0) win over Bosnian champions Zrinski Mostar in the first leg of the play-off, but they should be accused of missing out on a better place in the second leg. Next Thursday (9 pm) in Mostar.
An early brace from Robert Zolge (4th and 12th) made a perfect start, but then the Thomas Säjder-coached side didn’t make enough of their dominant appearance. And Nemanja Belbega (71) punished that at the start of the final stage with a free-kick goal.
Double hit by Zulj
The evening got off to a perfect start in front of around 10,000 spectators for the players from Linz, who started with a line of three under Sagder for the first time. After strong pressure, Zolge got the ball just before the penalty area, and it was blocked while trying to pass, but he took advantage of the second opportunity. Just eight minutes later, the hosts were rewarded for a committed start again, and Zolge was right there again. After an assist from Sasha Horvath, the captain fired the ball into the net with great precision from about 20 meters out, giving the team a 2-0 lead.
Lask kept his restraint for the time being, but Zrinjski absorbed the first blow after a good 20 minutes. While Upper Austria pulled back a bit, the Bosnians became bolder and, after a long pass forward, scored the supposed goal – obviously the offside position was too obvious (26th). Twelve minutes later, the visitors squandered a great opportunity to make it 2-1 (39 minutes) when Mario Kuz’s shot hit the post from close range.
Although agile with the ball against the ball, they produced only an attacking mix despite clearly excelling in possession. The only two shots by Moses Osor (29′) and Rene Renner (45′) remained until the end of the first half, but they passed wide of the goal.
Even after changing sides, the LASK team set the tone, but didn’t move beyond primitively dangerous measures. The advantage came after a deep pass to Rene Renner, who shot it in the middle, but he could not find anyone to shoot it (50). Renner attempted a good assist in the 68th minute as well, and Stangl’s pass to Zolge was intercepted at the last second.
Contradiction should avenge the attack shortly. After a free kick for Zrinjski, goalkeeper Bilbega didn’t miss the chance from a tight angle. Nothing noteworthy came from LASK after that either, only in stoppage time Zuly tested former Rapid goalkeeper Marko Maric from an acute angle.
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