Brenden Aaronson and RB Salzburg had a forgivable tepid performance after their Bundesliga-winning weekend, falling to an opportunistic Sturm Graz on Wednesday.
Sturm Graz 2 – 1 RB Salzburg
Aaronson retained his spot as an advanced midfielder, directly behind the front two, who this time consisted of younger prospects Benjamin Sesko and Chukwubdike Adamu.
Aaronson had a decent outing, although like the Salzburg squad in general, was lacking in the final bite that ultimately left the team unable to turn its 63% possession into more than a solitary goal.
In his 76 minutes on the field, the American only had one shot, although one that forced a quality save by the opposing keeper, and completed 17 of his 22 passing attempts while winning seven of his 12 duels against the opposition.
The hosts already took a somewhat unexpected lead over the champs in the 14th minute, when Lukas Jäger took flight to head in free kick launched by Jakob Jantscher from deep in the left flank.
Sesko did pull the visitors even eight minutes later; Nicolas Capaldo struck a long cross from the right which snaked through the penalty area all the way to the far post, where Sesko poked it over the line.
Aaronson’s lone shot in the 69th minute was a close call, as he broke into the right side with only the keeper to beat, however his attempted chip was lacking in height, and Jörg Siebenhandl was able to claw it to safety.
Three minutes later, the hosts caught the Red Bulls’ defense sleeping on the job, with Stefan Hierländer drawing four defenders in his direction as he approached area, leaving Jantscher all alone just outside the box for a slightly-deflected strike that flew in just under the crossbar for the 2-1 winner.
The already crowned champions won’t have another league game until May 8 when they host Wolfsberger, but in the meantime have the little matter of the Austrian Cup final against SV Ried on Sunday afternoon.