A determined Tirol side made things difficult for us over the full 90 minutes and we return to Salzburg after a 2-3 defeat.
Due to the packed fixture schedule, our side featured four changes, and they gave WSG the early initiative. Pranter smashed the ball on Cican Stankovic's goal, hitting the side netting. Jesse's boys then seized the initiative. Karim Adeyemi smashed the ball into the crossbar before Berisha was denied by the alert home goalkeeper, Ozegovic, in a one-on-one situation. Shortly after that, Andi Ulmer whipped in a corner and Mergim Berisha was denied twice from close range after a Ramalho header. While Berisha was appealing for a handball, in stepped Enock Mwepu to smash the loose ball in and put us ahead (12')!
It remained an entertaining affair. Karim controlled a wonderful Mwepu chip forward in some style, but Ozegovic got his feet to it to keep it out on his first appearance of the season. The diamond-studded hosts showed just how much they earned their place in the champions round, even if they had a bit of fortune along the way. Rasmus Kristensen was caught on the foot when tracking back, but no foul was awarded. Celic then launched a Tirol attack that resulted in Baden Frederiksen firing the ball in from a tight angle past Stankovic in WSG's first shot (29'). Andre Ramalho tried to make a very entertaining first half end well for us, but the Brazilian fired the ball over from a corner.
The second half also began with thrills and spills. Baden Frederiksen spotted Cican off his line and went within a metre of sinking a cheeky lob that could have been a shoo-in for Goal of the Month. Our Red Bulls then found their clinical touch when they needed to - Kristensen took hold of the ball and sent Adeyemi free of the defence. The speedster laid the ball across to substitute Brenden Aaronson, who thumped the ball in to put us back in front (58')!
The blink-and-you'll-miss-it action continued. Rieder went within a fraction of pulling the hosts level before Adeyemi picked out Patson Daka in the centre, who slid in but just missed the target. It was the kind of evening when a miss like that was sure to be punished. That happened when Koch hit it too Rogelj, who played Baden Frederiksen in. The Dane sprinted towards goal and finished well (76'). It got even worse: two Salzburg defenders were a little too friendly towards Rogelj, who was allowed to charge past them into the box and turn it over to the far post – where Smith netted to put the hosts in front (89')! Daka sent a header over the bar in stoppage time, and we were left to journey home without any points.
We talked ahead of the match about the importance of making a good start and being prepared for a really hard match. I felt from the first minute on though that we were too relaxed. We were too loose on the ball, and we didn't play intensively enough. It was clear to me at the start that we weren't ready. We had a lot of chances in the first half, and if we had been sharper in front of goal, we would have scored more. We need to react now and we need to be clear that we have to play better! I wasn't satisfied with the entire match. We just all weren't good enough today.
We brought it upon ourselves today. On the one hand, as we didn't convert our chances or play the final pass, and on the other hand you have to recognise that Tirol deserved it. They really worked for it, believed in their ability to play football and used spaces well. They do it really well! The results don't come by themselves, I repeat it every week. We have to work to achieve absolutely everything, and if we don't perform on the pitch, something like this can happen. We'll dust ourselves down, pick our heads up and try to win three points on Sunday.
We have to make better use of our chances! We have to be more clinical in front of goal and seal wins earlier. It doesn't look great at the back when we concede three times. It's very disappointing. We lacked explosiveness in the first half, and you can't win a match without that. We weren't fully at it!
Daka for Berisha (46'), Aaronson for Okafor (46'), Junuzovic for Bernede (46'), Sucic for Adeyemi (80')
Bernardo (19' foul), Mwepu (66' foul)
not available for action
Wöber (hip injury), Vallci (achilles)