By Andy Hall
Libor Sionko scored twice as FK Austria Wien came from behind to book their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup with a surprise 2-1 win against Athletic Club Bilbao in a passionate second-leg encounter at San Mamés.
The Czech Republic striker cancelled out Francisco Yeste's 20th-minute penalty ten minutes before half-time and, after a sustained spell of second-half pressure, fired low inside the far post on 70 minutes. The away goal meant Athletic required two goals to stay in the competition and the Spanish side launched wave upon wave of attacks but it was not to be.
Flurry of chances
Last week's rescheduled first leg ended goalless but this evening's decider never looked like being a repeat as Athletic began in attacking mode. Asier Del Horno and Ismael Urzaiz both tested Joseph Didulica in the visitors' goal, while Joseba Etxeberria's cross-shot bounced off the upright on six minutes. The pressure eventually told on Austria when Ernst Dospel conceded a penalty by handling the ball as Santiago Ezquerro brought it down in the box.
Yeste confidently struck the spot-kick inside the right-hand post to put the Basque side ahead, but it was Austria who appeared invigorated by the goal. Ivica Vastic fired two efforts wide but Sionko was more accurate and on 35 minutes he curled in a shot from the left to restore parity.
Both teams upped the tempo of the match in the second half and while Athletic dominated possession, Austria remained dangerous on the break and looked the most likely winners. First Markus Kiesenebner flashed a header past the upright on 55 minutes, before Tosin Dosunmu was denied by Ignacio Lafuente on a one-on-one.
Athletic did not heed the warning, however, and with 20 minutes remaining, Sionko ensured there will be an Austrian club in the last 16 for the first time in seven years. Austria will take on another Spanish side, Real Zaragoza, over two legs next month.