Front-runners consolidate as rivals falter
© Foto-net

In Austria, Trenkwalder Admira’s remarkable run continued as the promoted club maintained their advantage at the top of the table. The new boys continue to confound the pundits and have now led the table since Matchday 9. By contrast, champions Basel have overcome a poor start and are now reasserting their pre-eminence in Switzerland. FIFA.com reviews the latest action in the Alpine leagues.

Basel benefit from rivals’ slip-ups
Basel emerged as the big winners from the 15th round of matches in the Swiss Super League, as chasing pair Lucerne and Sion both contrived to lose. Champions Basel huffed and puffed their way to a 3-2 victory away to bottom club Lausanne Sport on Saturday, but did just enough to come away with the points. Matt Moussilou scored a seventh-minute opener for the underdogs, but Benjamin Huggel headed the visitors level six minutes later, and Alexander Frei completed the turnaround on 34 minutes. Moussilou struck again to make it 2-2 two minutes before the break, but Frei took his total for the season to 11 goals with the 65th-minute winner.

Elsewhere, FC Zurich’s recent recovery came to an end with a 3-1 defeat to Xamax, leaving Urs Fischer and his men treading water in eighth place on 14 points. Kalu Uche opened for the men from Neuchatel after 25 minutes, and although Admir Mehmedi equalised on the half-hour, Javier Arizmendi restored the home side’s lead three minutes later. Uche rounded off the scoring with his second from a stoppage-time penalty.

Lucerne and Sion drop points
FCZ’s great rivals Grasshoppers put consecutive defeats behind them in a welcome return to winning ways. Ciriaco Sforza’s men beat Sion 2-1, a painful and potentially costly defeat for the side in third.

Lucerne also failed to prevent Basel consolidating their lead at the top, as the early-season high-fliers lost 3-1 to Thun and are now three points adrift of the champions. All the goals came in the second half as Thun finally halted a run of eight matches without a win. Enrico Schirinzi put the home side ahead three minutes after the restart, but Hakan Yakin equalised from the spot before the hour. In a dramatic finish, Milaim Rama (87) and Schirinzi (90+1) condemned the visitors to defeat.

Results:
Lausanne Sport 2-3 Basel
Thun 3-1 Lucerne
Grasshopper Club Zurich 2-1 Sion
Neuchatel Xamax 3–1 FC Zurich
Servette Geneva 1-0 Young Boys Berne
Top three: Basel (31 points), Lucerne (28), Sion (26)

Unfancied Admira march on
With seven wins, six draws and just one defeat, promoted Trenkwalder Admira continue to defy the odds in Austria, and have now led the league uninterrupted since Matchday 9. Coach Dietmar Kuhbauer’s men took on Wiener Neustadt in the Vienna hinterland derby, where a goalless draw proved enough to maintain a four-point lead over chief pursuers Austria Vienna.

It might have been enough to extend the advantage, but Austria dramatically came from two goals down on Sunday to salvage a point against Wacker Innsbruck. Peter Hackmair and Daniel Schutz put Wacker 2-0 up after half an hour, but Michael Liendl and Zlatko Junuzovic, whose equaliser came in the third minute of injury time, completed the Vienna side’s recovery.

The crisis continues for pre-season favourites Red Bull Salzburg, who have not won in six matches and now trail Admira by seven points. At the weekend, the Bulls crashed 3-0 away to relegation-haunted Mattersburg. "This is a very painful defeat. We handed the game to our opponents by making mistakes at set pieces, and not for the first time. But we were toothless up front today as well. However, you can always draw some positive conclusions from a negative situation. You have to look for reasons, and that’s my job. I accept there’ll be criticism, but I’m not worried, and I’ll keep doing things my way," under-fire Salzburg boss Ricardo Moniz was quoted as saying by the club website.

As for the reigning champions, Sturm Graz struggled to a last-gasp win over tail-enders Kapfenberg. Darko Bodul broke the bottom club’s hearts with the only goal of the game, a wickedly deflected shot in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Results:
Wiener Neustadt 0-0 Trenkwalder Admira
Ried 1-1 Rapid Vienna
Mattersburg 3-0 RB Salzburg
Sturm Graz 1-0 Kapfenberg
Austria Vienna 2-2 Wacker Innsbruck
Top three: Trenkwalder Admira (27 points), Austria Vienna (23), Rapid Vienna (21)

The Austrian Bundesliga and Swiss Super League now take a break for international matches. The next domestic fixtures are on 19 and 20 November.