We won the big match of the 33rd Austrian Bundesliga game week 4-1 against Sturm Graz. The Austrian title race is therefore decided three matches before the end of the season and WE ARE THE 2018 AUSTRIAN CHAMPIONS – winning our fifth title in a row! A truly historic evening for the club.
There was an atmosphere to befit a top match today. A very good attendance was at the Red Bull Arena to try to cheer the Europa League semi-finalists to the point they needed for their fifth league title in a row. Not much happened in the opening quarter of an hour, apart from SK Sturm Graz sending in their first shot in the second minute - a Zulj effort that flew well over. Otherwise the game began as a midfield battle, above all. Our first opportunity fell to the experienced Christoph Leitgeb, who smashed an effort from distance just to the left of the target (16'). Two minutes later, Duje Caleta-Car tried to pounce with a header from a Reinhold Yabo free-kick, but goalie Siebenhandl had no difficulty keeping the effort out (18'). There was then a dangerous moment for us that saw Alar dribble the ball past Jerome Onguene and Marin Pongracic and look for an opening - Duje Caleta-Car was able to stop him with a wonderful piece of defending (28'). We hadn't enjoyed any major opportunities by this point, but we kept on trying - with our Rauch Rookie of the Match taking aim from 20 metres out, without being able to trouble the Graz goalkeeper (37'). A little later we were unable to avoid falling behind with an unstoppable shot for 1-0 to the visitors from Peter Zulj (40'). Only seconds before half-time, Hee Chan Hwang scored a highly deserved equaliser (45+2'), when he appeared all alone in front of Siebenhandl's goal. We therefore went into the dressing room with the scores level at 1-1.
We started the second half brimming with enthusiasm. In the 48th minute, Hannes Wolf fired a wonderful shot on goal that just missed the target. What a shame! Just moments later there was a free-kick taken by Yabo that left Siebenhandl diving to keep the ball out (53'). Then it was time for the Graz net to bulge again! Duje Caleta-Car was the goalscorer, firing in clinically on the rebound to make it 2-1 (54'). We were now at our free-flowing best, and Sturm Graz were virtually out of the running. Yabo tried to hit a third by pouncing as Siebenhandl charged too soon off his line – but missed the opportunity (63'). Our Asian pair then tried to add to the scoreline, with Hwang firing over the goal, just before Minamino shot wide to the right (63'). Siebenhandl was facing a busy afternoon in the visiting goal, with Hannes Wolf next to make Graz sweat. The Graz shotstopper just managed to turn the ball over the net (64'). As had looked on the cards for some time, our boys soon hit their third goal in the big match, with a Jerome Onguene header (65'). What a sensational game of football! Another great attack from Salzburg led to a top chance falling to Takumi Minamino, whose effort flew just past the right post (75'). The afternoon of football was crowned with a fourth goal for our side from Munas Dabbur in the 83rd minute, when Spendlhofer tried to clear the ball, only for it to land right at Dabbur, who converted on the volley. Our club has therefore made history again - in being the first club in Austria ever to win five league titles in a row.
Salzburg are champions! I'll be celebrating. It was a worthy way to win the league title today. We have now achieved one of our aims for the season, and this title is something very special for us! The boys put in a sensational second half and deserve to be able to celebrate today.
We have become champions, and that is all that counts right now. You can't just turn up and win the title every year, there is a load of work that goes into it. The next challenge is ahead on Wednesday in the cup.
Lainer for Caleta-Car (65'), Dabbur for Hwang (69') and Schlager for Leitgeb (79')
Pongracic (24' unsporting behaviour)
not available for action
Ulmer (thigh problems)