1:2 – Sturm Graz lost the lead against Sporting

1:2 – Sturm Graz lost the lead against Sporting
Sporting celebrated the victory in Graz.
Image: Erwin Scheriau (APA/Erwin Scheriau)

Despite taking the lead in the opening game of the Europa League group phase against Sporting Lisbon, Sturm Graz did not reward themselves: the Styrians had to admit a deserved 2-1 defeat in Group D. For Sporting, quarter-finalists last season, it was their first win in Austria in their seventh competitive game.

William Böving, who scored four of his five goals in the Storm jersey on the international stage, put coach Christian Ilzer’s team in the lead (58th), much to the delight of the 13,517 spectators in the stadium. But Viktor Gyökeres (76′) and Ousmane Diomande (84′) turned the game around with a deflected shot.

Ilzer changed his starting eleven in two positions compared to the 2-2 draw in the dress rehearsal against series champions Salzburg: left-back Amadou Dante replaced ÖFB team player David Schnegg, and William Böving was allowed to start on the offensive instead of Szymon Wlodarczyk. Sporting traveled to Graz with four wins and one draw in the first five league games; in Styria, coach Ruben Amorim’s team wanted to finally defeat the Austrian curse.

In the initial phase, the Portuguese also had a dominant play, but without creating any clear opportunities. Sturm held on in a 4-3-2-1 formation, defended compactly and also had their first chance to score. Otar Kiteishvili’s header had too little force (4′). The first half had few chances, only the poor condition of the pitch in the Graz Liebenau stadium initially caused a stir.

Böving made it 1-0

In the 37th minute, Böving tried a long shot that didn’t force Sporting goalie Antonio Adan to intervene. On the other hand, a harmless Paulinho header (41′) was the best opportunity for the 19-time Portuguese champion in the first 45 minutes. After the break, it only took a few seconds for Sporting to have two good opportunities: First Geny Catamo shot well over after a nice dribble into the Sturm penalty area with the help of the turf (46th), shortly afterwards Sturm goalkeeper Kjell Scherpen saved his shot Team with a brilliant deed after a Trincao header in the game (47th).

Sturm survived the pressure phase from the Portuguese and was rewarded shortly afterwards. Dante initiated a quick attack in his own penalty area, which Kiteishvili actually completed with a long-range shot onto the post. But the rebound bounced straight to Böving, who speculated correctly and coolly scored the much-celebrated 1-0.

The saves were followed by an error from Scherpen

It was once again thanks to Scherpen that the cheering did not die down immediately. The 23-year-old Dutchman parried a shot from Paulinho (59′) before the 2.06 m giant had to save twice a little later. Again it was Paulinho who despaired of the storm goalkeeper’s reflex from close range, and Goncalo Inacio’s header immediately afterwards ended up in the hands of Scherpen.

A quarter of an hour before the end the spell was broken: Scherpen unfortunately deflected a Goncalves shot onto David Affengruber’s knee, Gyökeres reacted a touch quicker and pushed the ball over the line.

A little later, the Portuguese celebrated again: Diomande released Prass with a hook on the edge of the penalty area, and the 19-year-old central defender scored with a powerful shot. An attempt from a distance by “Joker” Tomi Horvat, which went just over the goal, was the best chance in Graz’s final offensive (88th).

In the parallel game, Atalanta Bergamo beat Rakow Czestochowa 2-0.

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