Back in Hütteldorf: Show, Entrainment, Victory vs. Chelsea
Despite the build only taking a record 18 months, the opening of a new stadium is always a spectacle to behold. Right up until the past days our club officials, along with numerous other parties and helpers, have been intensively working on the finishing touches for our new home and got the job done ahead of D-Day.
Saturday the 16th of July was therefore not only a historic day for the club, but also a very intense milestone. The day represented - after the opening of the new fan shop, the Rapideum, the fan corner, and the Gerhard Hanappi Square - the huge high point for which so many have worked so hard.
So, D-Day arrived and, by extension, the opening of the new Allianz Stadium. It was a fantastic moment which alongside entertainment, politics, business, and culture was augmented by former President Heinz Fischer symbolically cutting the green-white band to officially open the new stadium in a carnival atmosphere. Ahead of the richly diverse entertainment programme prior to kick-off, the Allianz Stadium was already packed to the rafters with fans and officials alike barely able to wait for the historic event to unfold. Finally, the main event arrived, as the Green & Whites took to the brand new turf for the first time.
Aside from the injured Matej Jelic, Trainer Mike Büskens had a fully fit squad to choose from and surprisingly brought 20 year-old Tamas Szanto into the starting line up in attacking midfield. Londoners Chelsea also fielded a strong side under new manager Antonio Conte, and with all the pieces in place the game could finally get underway. Accompanied by the new acoustically powerful Block West, our team in their new away kit started the match on fire and immediately pushed the guests back into their own half.
With all the ingredients in place the players delivered a perfect start: New striker Joelinton was expertly picked out in the penalty area and announced his arrival in Hütteldorf by finishing with aplomb to put Rapid into the lead – 1:0 it was and the first Green & White goal celebrations rang round the new home! With the Green & Whites in the ascendancy it looked like a second goal might arrive: Stefan Schwab went close with a free-kick (27); whilst Mario Pavelic also tested Chelsea keeper Begovic with a long range effort (35.). At the other end of the field Diego Costa fired a reminder of the quality of the opposition when his fierce drive went inches wide of the upright (36.). Captain Steffen Hofmann then failed to get the ball under control when in a promising position, before a Philipp Schobesberger shot rounded off the first half goalmouth action.
The start of the second period saw Rapid pick up where they left off, and the first chance of the half arrived when a cross from Schrammel evaded Joelinton by a matter of inches (54.). Diego Costa continued to provide the focal point for Chelsea as an attacking force, heading narrowly over in the 67th minute. Stefan Schwab again threatened with another shot (70.), but shortly afterwards the second which Rapid had threatened arrived - directly in front of the new Block West: Tomi fed the ball to Murg who lashed an effort on goal which Begovic could only palm back out to Tomi who made no mistake, slamming home from close range - 2:0 (82.)! The terrace anthem "Rapid Wien - Lebenssinn" rang around the ground and brought the whole crowd to their feet. The opening game ended with a prestigious victory over a world renowned opponent – but this represents only the beginning of a new era for the club in the wonderful surroundings of the Allianz Stadium! RAPID!!!!