03.04.2011, Stadion der Stadt Linz, Linz, AUT, 1. FBL, LASK Linz vs FC Red Bull Salzburg, im Bild die Fans des Lask (LASK Linz, #), EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ R.Eisenbauer

3 goals in 8 minutes see Liverpool’s 1st Europa rivals extend unbeaten run

As Liverpool prepare for a first-time meeting with LASK in the Europa League, the Austrian side extended their unbeaten run to seven games.

Thursday night will pit two in-form sides against each other, when Liverpool travel to the Raiffeisen Arena to take on LASK in Group E.

It will be the first time Liverpool have ever faced the side from Linz, and the first time they have played in the Europa League since the final in 2016.

A 3-1 comeback victory over Wolves served as the perfect warmup for Jurgen Klopp and his players, who will also be boosted by the return of Virgil van Dijk in midweek.

But hours later, LASK kept up an impressive run of their own by beating Austria Klagenfurt 3-1 in the Austrian Bundesliga.

07.09.2010, Red Bull Arena, Salzburg, AUT, UEFA 2012 Qualifier, Austria vs Kazakhstan, im Bild Fans mit ˆsterreichischen fahne tauchen das Sation in eine Rot Weiss Rote Fahnenmeer, EXPA Pictures © 2010, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ G. Groder

The two opponents sat in third and fourth respectively heading into the tie, with LASK taking a three-goal lead before half-time via goals from Marin Ljubicic, Florian Flecker and Elias Havel within the space of eight minutes.

Klagenfurt grabbed one back through Solomon Bonnah after the break, but were unable to find the net again as they suffered their first defeat of the season.

For LASK, victory consolidated third spot in the league after seven games, with TSV Hartberg and Rapid Wien later overtaking Klagenfurt.

It also extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to seven games, with their only defeat so far this season coming to Sturm Graz (2-0) on August 5.

Manager Thomas Sageder made three changes to his side from 2-0 victory over Austria Lustenau before the international break, including a first start for striker Havel.

Havel replaced Ibrahim Mustapha in attack, while Flecker took over as right wing-back from Sanoussy Ba and George Bello took over from Rene Renner on the opposite flank.

LASK have set up in a 3-4-3 formation in recent weeks, with a consistent back three of Philipp Ziereis, Andres Andrade and Felix Luckeneder.

Captain Robert Zulj is their key source of goals, with five goals and four assists in 10 appearances, while nine other players have scored.

There were no new injury problems for Sageder during the victory in Klagenfurt, with Havel, Ljubicic, Bello, Zulj and Sascha Horvath all brought off as tactical substitutions.

In fact, of the players registered for the Europa League group stage, Renner is the only likely absentee on Thursday night.

Speaking on the visit of Liverpool, Zulj told Sky Sport Austria: “It’s the game of the year for every player, every employee of the club and every fan.

“Of course we want to give it our all and see what happens.”

LASK XI vs. Klagenfurt: Lawal; Ziereis, Andrade, Luckeneder; Flecker, Jovicic, Horvath (Taloverov 85′), Bello (Ba 65′); Ljubicic (Kone 65′), Zulj (Ljubic 90+1′), Havel (Goiginger 65′)

Subs not used: Siebenhandl, Usor