Sturm Graz lost first place in the Bundesliga on Sunday. The Styrians suffered a 3-1 away defeat against LASK and are now two points behind champions Red Bull Salzburg, who won 2-0 at WSG Tirol on Saturday. Third-placed Linz came within two points of Sturm. Moses Usor (36th), Filip Stojkovic (45th+1) and Robert Zulj (91st) gave Graz their second league defeat in a row with a goal from Szymon Wlodarczyk (60th).
The game started extremely turbulently in front of 15,900 fans. After about 20 seconds, Bryan Teixeira fell after a duel with George Bello, and referee Markus Hameter immediately awarded a penalty. Manprit Sarkaria started and was denied by LASK goalie Tobias Lawal, who was defeated by William Böving in the follow-up shot. However, the goal did not count after VAR intervention because Böving ran into the penalty area too early.
What followed was a violent back and forth press from both teams, which meant that the playful touch was neglected. The 1-0 win for LASK also came immediately after a series of duels – Zulj laid off for Usor and the Nigerian sank the ball from the edge of the box. A few minutes later the second penalty was missed, this time by the home team. Stojkovic won the penalty in a duel with Dante, Zulj found his match in storm keeper Kjell Scherpen (45th).
Just seconds later, Bello hit a cross to the middle, Zulj extended it, and Stojkovic fired it into the near corner in the style of a goal-getter. After their botched penalty in the first half, the Graz team rarely appeared on the offensive; the most exciting thing was a yellow-tagged swoop from Alexander Prass (28′).
For that, Sturm probably should have received a penalty at the start of the second half. Stojkovic wrestled Jon Gorenc-Stankovic to the ground, but neither Hameter nor the VAR voted for a penalty (47th). After around an hour, the guests still had hope again: Teixeira did the remarkable preparatory work, and Wlodarczyk, who came on as a substitute at the break, finished from close range.
Sturm tried to save at least one more point, but the Upper Austrians were closer to the third goal on the counterattack than the Styrians were to the equalizer – for example in the 85th minute, when Scherpen won against Usor and Husein Balic failed to put the rebound in the goal ( 85.). Zulj fixed the final decision with a shot into the empty goal after an assist from Sascha Horvath, meaning LASK took ten points from the last four rounds.
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