The Bundesliga leaders and defending champions moved into the quarter-finals with a 3-2 (1-2) win against GAK on Thursday. Bryan Teixeira (84th) scored the decisive goal in a heated and turbulent game in front of 16,400 spectators.
But the initial phase was deceptive. Sturm’s defense chief Wüthrich subverted a free-kick cross from Jusuf Gazibegovic with a powerful header into the left corner after just 247 seconds (5th). The GAK let their arch-rivals take control after the early setback, but in the end they were able to rely on an orderly five-man chain. Despite all his dominance, Sturm failed to improve and increasingly fell into passivity. Stefan Hierländer couldn’t prevent a cross and Cheukoua scored in the center with his left turn (31′). The equalizer from the proverbial nowhere initiated a phase of collective hectic, which the GAK immediately used again: The agile Cheukoua threw himself into a corner and Oberleitner – unnoticed by Harald Lechner’s team of referees – maneuvered the ball in with his elbow in the turning movement Goal. There is no video assistant referee (VAR) in this phase of the ÖFB competition.
The Europa League starter lacked the ideas of the ailing Otar Kiteishvili and William Böving, and coach Christian Ilzer initially left two frequent players, Jon Gorenc Stankovic and Manprit Sarkaria, on the bench. Sarkaria came into the game earlier than planned because Seedy Jatta was injured again. Sturm came out of the dressing room with anger in his stomach, but almost ran into an early knockout. Michael Lang (47th/next), Cheukoua (48th/failed by Kjell Scherpen) and Christian Lichtenberger (57th/next) left three excellent counterattack chances lay.
So the Black and Whites suddenly celebrated an equalizer, which had also not been announced. Oberleitner – the goalscorer to make it 2-1 – maneuvered a cross from Alexander Prass into his own goal (58th). The Ilzer team had thus taken over the reins of action again. However, top chances were in short supply. Teixeira, of all people, used the match point, hitting the ball into the far corner after a pass from Sarkaria. It was his first goal as a striker in his 29th appearance.
Riots in the stadium
The 199th Graz competitive derby wrote negative headlines before kick-off. Security meetings were held after riots in and around the stadium resulted in injuries and arrests. But the game took place as planned. Last year, the first Graz derby in 15 years also took place in the round of 16. It ended with a narrow 1-0 win for the favorites. This time it didn’t seem to be so tight.
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