RECAP: WEEKEND AUSTRIAN ACTION
Conor O'Brien made his debut for Wiener Neustadt in style in a wild win over Admira Wacker while Shawn Barry's goal for Linz sealed the deal in their win over Liefering.
SC Wiener Neustadt 5 - 4 FC Admira Wacker
Conor O'Brien played the full game in Wiener Neustadt's midfield on Saturday afternoon, scoring the team's first goal as they surged past Admira Wacker in a wild nine-goal thriller for their first win of the season.
O'Brien had the near-perfect start to his Austrian career, opening the scoring for Neustadt after 26 minutes following a well-taken short corner. Initially kicking the ball to teammate Abd Al Rahman Osman Ali, he received it back just outside the area, nutmegged a pair of defenders on his way into the area and launched a looping far-post shot that spectacularly found its way into the net.
Wacker equalized 12 minutes later when Eldis Bajrami's shot took a lucky deflection into the net, sending the game into the half on even terms at one apiece.
Two minutes after the break, Kristijan Dobras put Neustadt again in the lead with a 22-yard shot to the corner, however this was just the first of a phenomenal seven goals in the half.
Rene Schicker pulled Wacker even in the 57th minute after a nice set-up from Daniel Toth, then Bajrami put the visitors ahead for the first time in the game in the 66th, receiving the ball from Lukas Thüraurer at the end of a nice combination for the 3-2.
Neustadt needed only nine minutes to recover, then fired off three in rapid succession to all but guarantee the win.
Herbert Rauter benefitted from a perfect setup pass by Osman Ali to pull the team even at 3-3 in the 75th, then two minutes later Mario Ebenhofer put them ahead with a shot from distance, and finally Osman Ali netted his first of the game with four minutes on the clock with a fine shot to the corner.
Wacker did keep it close in the final seconds when Issiaka Ouedraogo took advantage of a defensive miscue and was on-target to bring his team to within 5-4, however the final whistle signaled the end of the wild afternoon, with Neustadt taking a well-deserved three points.
Neustadt are still in a tough spot despite the win, still in last place, although now they are within reach of the pack of teams above them. They have a tough road immediately ahead, as they must visit undefeated Wolfsberger AC on Saturday.
LASK Linz 2 - 0 FC Liefering
Shawn Barry scored the second of Linz's two goals on Friday night, as the team had no problems to take down erstwhile league leaders FC Liefering.
Backup keeper Keith Cardona, who joined Liefering during the summer, was not in uniform for the visitors.
Linz entered the game three points behind Liefering, the division-leading farm team for Red Bull Salzburg, and knew that a victory would help to gum up the works atop the standings.
The opening 45 minutes saw both teams trade chances, and while Linz had the better run of things, they were without any final bite.
This changed 30 seconds into the second half, when Markus Blutsch and Fabiano combined to sent Daniel Kogler through on goal. Kogler rounded Fabian Bredlow and aimed his shot into the corner for the lead.
Then just before the hour mark, the visitors were unable to clear the ball away from their area following a shortly-taken corner despite multiple chances, allowing Barry to take possession, cut inwards from the upper left corner towards the penalty spot, and bury his shot to the lower far corner.
Any hope the visitors had of staging a miraculous comeback in the final minutes was squashed when Nikola Dovedan received a second yellow, embarrassingly for diving, and Linz cruised to the 2-0 win.
The result moves Linz into a three-way tie on points atop the Erste Liga standings along with SV Mattersburg and vanquished FC Liefering, with Barry and his teammates trailing the other two only by way of goal differential.
The team will be back in action on Friday evening with a trip to Wacker Innsbruck, before a 14-day pause for the international break.