SK Sturm Graz had a magical evening!

With a 1-0 home win against Feyenoord Rotterdam (match report >>>), the “Blackies” pushed the door wide open to the knockout phase of the Europa League – and that happened in a very dramatic way.

Sturm kept his own fans on Thursday for a long time. It lasted until the third minute of stoppage time before Graz, who were pressing in the second half, got the all-important goal.

Otar Kiteishvili was the man who shook the Merkur Arena in Graz just before 11 p.m. and gave all Sturm fans an unforgettable evening – but not just them.

“The moment when Otar scored the winning goal was one of the most beautiful moments of my coaching career,” says Sturm head coach Christian Ilzer, knowing how important this goal was in the end. “That moment was really extremely emotional.”

Kiteishvili: “Meant everything to me”

“I’m speechless,” Kiteishvili found it difficult to put his emotions into words shortly after the final whistle. “It was so emotional, especially for me,” the Georgian reveals about his long period of suffering.

But he couldn’t have come back any better. “It meant everything to me. The last few tough months were worth it. I couldn’t have dreamed of coming in 0-0 and in the last minute I scored the game-winning goal,” he says on “Sky”.

In the first half, there wasn’t much to suggest a magical storm night. Feyenoord was the leading team, but Jörg Siebenhandl kept Graz alive with a few brilliant saves.

“Today I can praise myself,” says Siebenhandl with a smile. “I felt today that it was a good day. I’m glad I pulled it off.”

Sturm showed two “different faces” at half-time

The goalkeeper kept the game open with top saves, even if there was some catching up to do. “It was a very difficult first half, it was important that we got away with it unscathed. Feyenoord were better in every respect, we seemed very nervous, we didn’t manage to get control of the game, we lost the ball easily.” , analyzes Ilzer.

So the mistakes were loudly addressed in the dressing room at half-time, as Gregory Wüthrich says: “It got a bit louder in the changing room at half-time.”

“We knew we could show a different face in the second half,” explains Siebenhandl, explaining the resolutions that were unpacked during the break. “We said we’d do everything because we don’t have games like that very often,” says Affengruber.

“We showed what a great team we are”

In the end, they “corrected a few things and made everything, really everything, better,” as Ilzer admits after the game.

“The second half was a lot better, we showed a lot more footballing quality. I think Ema’s (note: Emanuel Emegha) header was the initial spark. From there we were overwhelmingly superior,” explains the storm coach.

In the end there was indeed trembling, but the outcome is known. “In the second half we showed what a great team we are,” said Wüthrich emotionally.

0: 6 in Rotterdam the right incentive

It was an evening made all the sweeter when you think back to the first leg in Rotterdam in mid-September. While one of the most emotional evenings in Sturm’s European Cup history took place on Thursday, it was one of the most notorious about a month ago with the 6-0 defeat.

“That was an incentive,” Siebenhandl clarifies that something had to be made good. “When you react like that, it’s an absolute failure going forward,” explains Ilzer, having drawn the right conclusions from the defeat, since you’ve been unbeaten.

Everything from first to fourth place

Even if you were able to take a big step towards promotion, not everything has been decided in the group by a long shot. From first to fourth place, everything is still possible before the last matchday.

“It’s crazy what’s going on in this group. We could theoretically be first or last. We need a good performance in a week’s time. I’m sure we can move up in this difficult group,” said Kiteishvili.

Head coach Christian Ilzer was not nearly as well informed as his winning goal scorer, so far he has not dealt with the promotion rules. “I didn’t even read through this list with all the rules. The best thing is if we win, then we don’t have to calculate,” the Styrian breaks down to the most important things.

Sturm goes for victory against Midtjylland

In just one week, Sturm will be away at Midtjylland. A point in Denmark would be enough to finish in the top two in the group. For the people of Graz, however, it is clear that they will go all out again.

“We’re going there and want to win there too,” said Wüthrich. And it would be best “to perform like today in the second half,” adds Affengruber.

Then Sturm’s rise would probably be difficult to snatch away.

Source: Laola1

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Peggy McColl

Mentor l NY Times Bestselling Author. Hi, I'm Peggy McColl, and I'm here to deliver a positive message to you!

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