In front of 15,239 spectators, Salzburg coach Gerhard Struber set up the three-man defense chain that he had rehearsed in winter preparation, just like in the cup opener against LASK (3:2). In the center, the ÖFB international Flavius Daniliuc was replaced by a trained central defender Lucas Gourna-Douath, for whom there was no space in the defensive midfield either. Daniliuc, on loan from Salernitana until the end of the season, made a strong Bundesliga and Salzburg debut.
Experienced Andreas Ulmer had to help out in an unfamiliar position on the right wing because regular Amar Dedic was unavailable due to thigh problems, as were possible alternatives Leandro Morgalla (ill) and Nicolas Capaldo (injured). Petar Ratkov was given preference over Luka Sucic on offense. In Sturm, Gregory Wüthrich returned to the defense center at the expense of David Affengruber. Otherwise, Christian Ilzer trusted the formation from the Cup quarter-finals against Vienna Austria (2-0).
Ratkov made it 1-0 with a good header after a corner from Maurits Kjaergaard. Kjaergaard had already prepared Salzburg’s first two goals against LASK from standard situations. The champions were dominant, Ulmer tested storm goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros (24′), Oscar Gloukh pushed the ball past the far corner from a tight angle after Fernando’s pass (43′).
The Graz team came out of the locker room a little better with a change in their starting behavior and a system change to two defensive midfielders. But Salzburg still had the better chances. Gloukh aimed too imprecisely after an individual action (56th), Fernando made a mistake in a good position (60th). Kjaergaard’s shot landed at Jaros (64′), and the Liverpool loanee was also the winner in a one-on-one with Ratkov (72′). Central defender Oumar Solet missed the match point, chasing the ball over the goal from seven meters (78th).
The first shot was on target
This took revenge because Graz’s only shot at the Sturm goal made it 1-1: After substitute Max Johnston’s cross, Otar Kiteishvili evaded his guard Solet and scored with a flying header from five meters.
The Georgian had already scored a remarkable goal in the 2-2 draw in the first duel of the season in Graz in September. Afterwards, Sturm even briefly pushed for the winning goal. A final Salzburg free kick from Sucic landed on the outside bar (90th).
Salzburg is now unbeaten in six home games against Sturm in the league. Eight of the last nine duels with Graz ended with a one-goal difference or a draw. Sturm has only lost one game away from home this season in domestic business – in November at LASK (1:3), who could reduce the gap to the top duo to three or five points with a home win against Klagenfurt on Sunday (5 p.m.).
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