Neuchâtel Xamax has a good chance of remaining in the Challenge League. Neuchâtel won the barrage first leg at the lower-class Rapperswil-Jona 3-1.
Izer Aliu (6th), Soumaila Bakayoko (20th) and Danilo Del Toro (26th) made things clear early on in St. Gallen’s Grünfeld Stadium. Del Toro’s goal to make it 3-0 was particularly worth seeing. The 25-year-old Italian took advantage of the fact that Rapperswil’s keeper Diego Yanz ventured a little far out of the goal, successfully shot from 40 meters and overcame the hosts’ captain.
The first two goals were also preceded by insufficient defensive behavior by Rapperswil. At 0:1 they lost the ball about 20 meters from their own goal, at 0:2 a Rapperswil defender faced two Xamax strikers in the six yard box.
Rapperswil’s hopes are returning
However, the Promotion League representative did not admit defeat and, thanks to Dimitri Volkart, made it 3-1 shortly after the break. The striker netted after Xamax custodian Théo Guivarch was able to parry Oan Djorkaeff’s first attempt to finish.
Overall, Neuchâtel had more offensive actions. Del Toro, who was also involved in the 2nd goal, failed twice at Yanz in the closing stages. Bakayoko’s attempt to raise with a spectacular side kick was also unsuccessful.
Memories of 2019
Thanks to the 3-1 away win, the traditional club coached by Uli Forte has a good chance of remaining in the second division after a completely unsuccessful season. In Neuchâtel, however, they know very well that a clear away win in a barrage first leg can also be deceptive: three years ago, Aarau won 4-0 in Neuchâtel in the first leg of the Super League barrage – and still didn’t make it up.