Bundesliga action returned to Red Bull Arena this weekend as Red Bull Salzburg welcomed 4th placed Admira Wacker Mödling in matchday 20’s evening kick-off.
In preparation for the league’s restart, Munas Dabbur and Duje Ćaleta-Car were doubts for the game, but recovered in time to make the starting XI. Andreas Ulmer (Fever) was the notable absentee, and was replaced with Farkas at left-back. André Ramalho returned to the squad to make his 100th competitive appearance. 976 days after making the 99th.
The game started in the vain you’d expect the first fixture after a break to be like, with both sides feeling out their opposition to find out their areas of weakness. The home side had the larger share of possession and were able to create a couple of chances in the opening 10 minutes. A well-weighted pass from Ćaleta-Car just inside his own half picked out of the run of Hwang who attempts a first-time volley on the turn, but was left to look foolish as his effort rises over the bar.
Hwang tuns creator soon after. Using a succession of one-two’s to create space, Haidara fires a diagonal pass into Hwang inside the area. The South Korean takes control then puts in a low cross along the face of the goal, but no one could get their head onto the end of it, despite a diving effort. Haidara would have a chance moments later, although his touch let him down.
It would take Admira just under 20 minutes to have their first shot of the game. From a throwing, Sasa Kalajdzic used his considerable height to get above everyone and direct the ball onto Jakoliš on the edge of the six-yard box, but the Croatian heads the ball over the bar.
Opportunities were hard to come by during the opening half-an-hour, due to neither side being able to hold onto possession. Admira were able to disrupt Salzburg’s game plan by deploying a high defensive line, blocking passing lanes and forcing Hwang and Dabbur to drop deep to receive the ball.
It wasn’t until the 37th minute that Salzburg were able to breach the visitor’s defence. Nipping the ball away from his opponent, Berisha hands possession to Schlager on the edge of the semi-circle. The Austrian produces a clever first-time reverse pass back to Berisha, who entices the Leitner out of his goal before passing the ball to Dabbur, giving the Israeli an open goal to aim at.
The host’s lead lasted less than 5 minutes. After a succession of back-heel passes on the right flank, Kalajdzic lays the ball into an area for Jakoliš to run onto. The Croatian whips in a cross that evades every one but Grozurek, who’s arrived late into the area. Without taking a second to think, the winger struck the ball on the half-volley with enough power to leave Walke helpless.
Immediately after the restart, Schlager thought he had put his side back into the league, after tapping the ball into an empty net. Unfortunately, the goal was chalked off due to an off the ball incident. Die Roten Bullen had one final opportunity before the break. Dabbur does well to squeeze the ball through three defenders into Berisha, the Kosovan puts in a near-post cross for Hwang to get onto, but he places the ball wide of the mark.
In the second-half, more space became available as Salzburg were able to escape Admira’s press by using quick one, two touch passes. Admira came close to taking a lead soon after the restart. Unable to clear the first, Salzburg allowed their guests to drill a second cross into a dangerous area, though this time Samassékou clears.
Salzburg nearly emulate Admira’s equiliser in the 59th minute. On the second attempt, Lainer’s cross loops over everyone’s head and is met by Berisha arriving at the back post. But this time, the Kosovan’s speculative effort loops onto the roof of the net, rather than into it. Hee-Chan Hwang had a chance soon after, but hit his effort from an acute angle straight at the onrushing goalkeeper.
With less than 20 minutes remaining, Dabbur wasted a glorious chance to put Salzburg in front. Forcing his marker to slip after beating him with a Cruyff turn, Lainer’s cross was deflected into Dabbur by the penalty spot. The Israel international took a wild swing at the ball, blasting it over the bar. A perfect summary as to how Salzburg’s evening was going.
As the final few seconds ticked away, the home side were handed one last opportunity through a free-kick on the edge of the area. Berisha and Wolf stood by the ball, Wolf stepped over it as a decoy, allowing the former to whip in a cross. The ball was hit at a perfect height, allowing Ramalho to jump up and head home the winner with the final touch of the game. Everyone ran over to join the man of the hour during his celebration, as the Brazilian’s goal meant they would go 2 points ahead of Sturm Graz in the table.