Sturm Graz leaves European Cup match point against Rakow

2023-11-30 19:55:43

Sturm Graz has missed its first great chance of overwintering in the European Cup. After the 0-1 home defeat against Raków Częstochowa on Thursday, Austria’s football runner-up in the Europa League has no chance of promotion and has to worry about moving to the intermediate round of the Conference League. The direct duel for third place will be decided in a long-distance duel in the last group game.

Sturm will be visiting Sporting in Lisbon in two weeks, while Rakow will face Atalanta Bergamo at home. The goal difference is still one goal better for Graz. John Yeboah scored the decisive goal in the 81st minute for the Polish champions, who were generally more dangerous. Alexander Prass missed the disappointing Graz team’s best opportunity in front of 12,517 fans (66′).

Christian Ilzer rose into the club’s circle of legends with his 150th game as storm coach. He had to do without guarantees of success in the starting line-up at the anniversary. Defense chief Gregory Wüthrich did not get fit in time for the showdown, playmaker Otar Kiteishvili and William Böving came on during the second half. Kjell Scherpen, who was recently bedridden, returned to goal.

Sturm started with control of the game and several half chances. Szymon Wlodarczyk fired the first warning shot against his compatriots from a difficult angle (8th), Manprit Sarkaria was just prevented from finishing (15th), David Schnegg shot far over at full risk (16th), before Wlodarczyk’s shot was also on one Defender got stuck (26th).

But Ilzer was brooding on the sideline because his team was unfocused when winning the ball early and at the same time left the right flank open. Poland’s champions even had the better chances in the first half: Ante Crnac missed a free-standing cross after a five-pointer (15th), as did Marcin Cebula, who only had scherpen in front of him after losing the ball from Jusuf Gazibegovic (20th).

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As the game continued, Graz’s control of the game crumbled more and more and the guests were closer to taking the lead. Even after the change, at temperatures around freezing point, only Rakow initially warmed up the almost 600 fans who had traveled with him. Cebula failed after a free-kick feint due to Scherpen’s foot defense (50th), Sturm barely had any access to the game. The 0-0 was gradually due to a lack of Polish killer instinct.

Ilzer expressed his displeasure after an hour. Böving replaced the newly weak Wlodarczyk, created a gap in the debut, but then noticeably revived the flagging attack. Prass left the “sitter” to make it 1-0 (66th). After a pass from Sarkaria, Tomi Horvat crossed to the ÖFB team player, who shot at Rakow’s goalkeeper Vladen Kovacevic from a few meters. Shortly afterwards, Sarkaria decided to finish instead of providing an assist for Böving (74th).

Rakow, who absolutely needed their first win, took a risk with an offensive quadruple substitution (75th). Prass almost intercepted a back pass, in direct response Yeboah made it 1-0. Jean Carlos left Schnegg standing and served the joker at the five-meter corner. In the end, Sturm threw everything forward, but was still far from equalizing.

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