In front of about 14,000 spectators at the Libenauer Stadium, Feyenoord was clearly the better and more dangerous team in the first half, but unlike the 6-0 first-leg loss in mid-September, Graz held their ground. Goalkeeper Jörg Seppenhandel saved several good chances to score, and Storm was also lucky when Upper Austria defense chief Gernot Trauner bounced off the crossbar (31). After the break, the Austrian runners-up dominated the match and pressed for the winning goal scored by substitute Kitishvili in overtime.
Storm coach Christian Elzer had to replace Jon Gorink Stankovic who had caught a cold. Ivan Ljubic took his place in the center of the defensive midfield. The match started four minutes late due to fireworks obstructing vision and Feyenoord quickly took the lead.
Sturm was a good sight in the early stages with Tomi Horvat, who only hit Trauner’s head (6′). After that, the host team was unable to put in more offensive accents in the first half because they did not engage in the good switching game as hoped.
The technically strong and secure Dutch selected the match and were also the most dangerous team. With two free kicks from Orkun Kökcü (12′, 32′) and Danilo’s shots (40′, 45’+1), Siebenhandl was on the post, and even with Trauner’s header, Sturm keeper likely had the ball.
The game completely changed after the break. Sturm exchanged two players, Emegha and Kiteishvili, who brought a lot of momentum to the game. The Grazers now played the match and repeatedly entered the penalty area dangerously Feyenoord. While Feyenoord did not create any more compelling scoring opportunities, Sturm had nearly half a dozen. Horvat failed in the goalkeeper Justin Bigelow (53), a header from substitute Emmanuel Emiga fell on the outer crossbar (64), Avengruber’s header missed her goal (70) and in the end (87) Emiga was again only a short centimeter. But in injury time, Kiteishvili saved Blakes from turning around with a shot.
Sturm has not lost since 0:6 in Rotterdam and nine competitive matches and is flying with good rising chances for the away match next Thursday (6.45pm) against Midtjelland in Denmark. Even a group win, which means a fixed ticket to the Round of 16, is still possible. A tie brings at least second place (European League playoff against the third-placed player in the Champions League).
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