05.11.2015 10:08
Team, UEFA Europa League

Victory in Plzen: European adventure continues on into 2016!

As predicted prior to kick-off by Trainer Zoran Barisic, the match in Plzen on Thursday proved to be a full blooded affair demanding full commitment and concentration. Rapid, in a changed strip of all white, were looking for a solitary point to secure their place in the next round, whilst their Czech hosts needed to claim the win to keep their Euro challenge on track. From the first whistle both teams flew into challenges with ferocious intensity and the early phase of the game was characterised by committed challenges and battling performances.

As the game began to settle down it was the Hütteldorfers who were creating the early chances. Indeed, the Green & Whites first real flowing footballing move was handsomely rewarded: Flo Kainz played Philipp Schobesberger in behind the Plzen defence with a superb, inch perfect pass between full back and centre half and speed merchant Schobesberger did the rest, shaking off his marker before outfoxing Plzen keeper Kozacik and clipping the ball into the net at the near post - 1:0 (14.)!! Rapid were looking to take advantage of Schobesberger's pace and the home side's high defensive line, and the tactic came close to adding a second ten minutes later: a beautiful pass from Schwab from inside his own half put Schobesberger through on goal again, but the forwards attempted chipped finish agonisingly went just the wrong side of the right hand post with the goalie well and truly beaten (24.). Unsurprisingly the Viktoria bench saw their initial plan wasn’t going to work and made necessary adjustments that saw the Czech's come back into the game and produce goal threat of their own. Still, the Rapid defence was coping admirably with all their opponents threw at them and with half an hour on the clock Jan Novota had rarely seen the ball.


In the 32nd the home fans were on their feet though as they thought they were about to draw level when a flowing move culminated into a cross into the box and an effort on goal that went just inches wide. The Rapid defence that had marshalled their hosts so well up to that point dusted itself down, re-focussed and saw the job through to half time with no further scares.
At the start of the second half there was a blow for Rapid as experienced skipper Steffen Hofmann had to be withdrawn after picking up an injury. Deprived of the talismanic captain’s experience and know-how, it would be up to his young colleagues to get the job done. His replacement Srdjan Grahovic could have eased nerves by adding a second, but fired wide of the far post after again being set up by the impressive Stefan Schwab (54.). At the other end Viktoria were looking dangerous and one had the feeling that a second Rapid goal might be required to get the Hütteldorfers over the finishing line.

Unfortunately it came as no surprise when the home side eventually forced the equaliser: a long cross to the back post from the right flank was headed back across goal, where Holende met the ball with a precise right footed volley that gave Novota no chance from 12 yards - 1:1 (70.). Just as it looked like the crucial point Rapid needed to secure passage through to the next round might be under threat Schwab again played a superb pass in behind the Plzen defence to once again set Schobesberger through on goal. As he bore down on the Plzen keeper our number seven lost his footing and fell to the floor, clipping the ball on his way down. The inadvertent contact was enough to beat the keeper and force the ball over the line - 2:1 (77.) and a weird and wonderful goal that put Rapid back in pole position in the group!


The closest the home side came to finding a way back into the match came from a late corner, but Jan Novota showed excellent reflexes to push the goal bound effort over the crossbar and away to safety (84.). Philipp Schobesberger, who had caused problems for the home side all night long, nearly grabbed his hat-trick in the dying embers of the game, but the struck the woodwork as Rapid picked holes in the desperate home side’s defence (92.). It proved to be immaterial as the Green & Whites saw off Viktoria's challenge to claim another win on foreign soil! Incredibly, and in a tough looking group, the Hüttledorfers have upset the odds and qualified for the next round of the Europa League knock-out rounds for the first time in the club’s history (in the competition’s current format), winning to this point four games out of four. A richly deserved reward for this team’s outstanding showings on the continent this season!



UEFA Europa League:

Viktoria Plzen - SK Rapid 1:2 (0:1)
Doosan Arena, 11.672 Attendance, Referee Banti (ITA)

Goals: 0:1 Schobesberger (13.), 1:1 Holenda (71.), 1:2 Schobesberger (77.);

Viktoria Plzen: Kozacik - Rajtoral (81./Mahmutovic), Hejda, Prochazka, Limbersky - Horava, Hrosovsky - Petrzela (63./Kopic), Kolar (70./Holenda), Kovarik - Duris;

SK Rapid: Novota - Pavelic, Sonnleitner, Dibon (67./M. Hofmann), Stangl - Petsos, Schwab - Schobesberger, S. Hofmann (51./Grahovac), F. Kainz - Prosenik (79./Jelic);