CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Tuesday, November 29, 2011
The third Linz derby of the Austrian season played out to a thrilling draw that saw both teams take the lead and LASK equalize late.
Florida-native Shawn Barry came on at the half for fellow defender Robert Schellander, who made his return from a one-game suspension.
The first half took some time to heat up in the chilly conditions at the Gugl stadium in Linz. After 28 minutes LASK, donning their red and black away jerseys, saw a great opportunity after Schellander wheeled in a cross from the left side.
Posted in front of the goal, Johannes Aigner's initial attempt was cleared, but Leonhard Kaufmann followed up with a point-blank strike unfortunately directed straight into the gloves of Blau-Weiss keeper David Wimleitner.
The hosts in blue and white had their best opportunity of the opening period just a minute before added time, when Slovenian striker David Poljanec's shot in a crowd of red and black jerseys beamed straight at netminder Thomas Mandl.
Just seconds into first-half injury time, Aigner earned the 1-0 halftime lead for LASK with a trademark header from ten yards out off an in-swinger from Florian Hart on the right side, bringing the veteran's season tally to eleven.
Shawn Barry entered at the intermission for Robert Schellander, and got into the action five minutes later with a throw-in for Harald Unverdorben, who sprinted through the box, but lost control of the ball.
LASK looked to double the lead at the hour mark after Freudenthaler raced down the left flank and fed through for Unverdorben, but the Austrian striker redirected inches wide of the left post.
Instead, the Blue and Whites nabbed an equalizer just a minute later off a 40-yard free kick from Svetovar Stoyanov Nikolov, which Manuel Hartl nodded forward with his back to Mandl's net to bring things even at 1-1.
They then surged into the 2-1 lead after 77 minutes thanks to a RenÚ Aufhauser nudge on Poljanec in the box which deserved a point to the spot from referee Dieter Muckenhammer. The arbiter displayed a yellow for Kevin Wimmer, who had shoved Poljanec in retaliation, an act also easily deserving of a red.
The Slovenian shook it off, stepped up to the spot, and chipped straight to send Mandl diving towards the left post.
With defeat staring them in the face, LASK again left it late and slipped in a goal before the curtain fell courtesy of Unverdorben. With three minutes to go in regular time, Freudentaler charged down the left side and delivered a cross through the box. Although Unverdorben missed the connection on its first time through, defender Simon Piesinger accidentally tapped back for Unverdorben, who gladly redirected past Wimleitner for his seventh goal of the season and the game-tying tally.
The 2-2 final marks the third time the two inter-city rivals have drawn this season in as many encounters.
Wednesday evening's other results will determine the Erste Liga standings heading into the three-month winter break. The season resumes for the Black and Whites on Mar. 2, 2012 at home against SCR Altach.