Wolfsberger AC were determined to secure their passage to the play-off round of the UEFA Europa Conference League already in the first leg against Gżira United, on home soil.
More than underestimating their opponents, for Wolfsberger it was a matter of flexing their muscles in the qualifications against a minnow side and prove that they are worthy of competing in the group stages of this competition.
Gżira, on their part, were clever enough to prevent Wolfsberger from producing flowing football by being aggressive and also disrupting the tempo of the game.
Wolfsberg’s coach Robin Dutt was not really pleased with Gżira’s playing style throughout the 90 minutes as his team was not inspired enough to impose their game and steamroll past the Maltese team, as expected.
“I missed the fair play in this game,” Dutt said.
“It is the right of every team to play in that way but I don’t think that is a good thing.
“At the same time though, I don’t want to create an alibi for our result.”
The Austrian side, who placed fourth in last season’s Bundesliga, could not go beyond a goalless stalemate which means they have to beat Gżira United at the Centenary Stadium if they want to advance.
Surely not an improbable task for a side that has already experienced the group phase of a competition like the UEFA Europa League, having also played in the Round of 32 of the same tournament.
Yet, the home draw puts more pressure on Wolfsberg who will rue their missed chances as they could not find a way to beat an inspired Darijan Zarkov in Klagenfurt.
“We had 95 minutes to score a goal but we did not,” coach Dutt explained after the match.
The home side created 20 chances including 11 from inside the box and 11 corner kicks. Wolfsberg dominated possession with 531 passes against Gżira’s 226.
Nonetheless, Gżira’s tactical organisation denied Wolfsberg and despite the substitutions that the coach made, the Austrian side struggled to break down the Maroons.
“The changes we made did not really pay dividends,” Dutt said.
“We need to create better opportunities in order to qualify against Gżira.”
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