Rapid went into the Cup duel with SV Leobendorf on the back of a rich vein of form that had seen them dispatch Genk in the UEFA Europa League and Mattersburg in the Bundesliga. Despite the opposition coming from the fourth tier of Austrian football, there was no room for underestimating Leobendorf as the Green & Whites sought to avoid being on the wrong end of a giant killing, and rather sought to secure safe passage into the last sixteen of the competition.
If any warning was required, the squad needed only to cast their minds back to the previous season, where a plucky SKU Amstetten had taken Rapid all the way to penalties before finally succumbing. Nonetheless, Mike Büskens unsurprisingly shuffled his pack somewhat, with Jan Novota, Auer, Steffen Hofmann, and Kvilitaia all being rotated into the starting formation.
Opening for Hofmann
Rapid made a bright start to the game and looked to get down the wings and maximise the width of the pitch. By contrast, the home side sought to cut down space and limit room, content to sit in deep in their own half and look to feed off any turnovers on the counter. With the side from lower Austria content to concede territory, Rapid enjoyed the lion's share of the possession in the opening quarter of an hour, but failed to make any real headway in terms of creating clear cut chances. That was until Thomas Murg played a delicious slide-rule pass into Steffen Hofmann, bisecting the non-league outfit's defence and putting the club skipper through one on one with the goalkeeper. Unfortunately, Leobendorf's goalie Gschwindl came out on top and the deadlock remained intact (16.).
With the Green & Whites seeing so much of the ball, things perhaps got a little casual and the hosts fired off a reminder that they weren’t there simply to make up the numbers: A swift move resulted in Konrad receiving the ball in the penalty area and getting a shot away, which he thankfully put wide from a promising position (21.). The effort gave the home side an injection of self belief, and they began to exert some pressure on the Rapid defence, culminating in a cross into the box and a shot from Demic that - despite being routinely gathered by Novota - provided a sign that Rapid needed to up their game (26.).
Shortly before the break the Green & Whites thought they had gone ahead, when Schoesswendter guided a Murg free-kick into the net with his head, only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside (38.). The scene represented the last goalmouth action of the half, and so the teams went into the break with the score still at 0:0.