10.12.2015 21:16
Team, UEFA Europa League

UEL: Rapid finish top of Group E

The final match day of the Europa League group stages pitted Rapid together with Dinamo Minsk, against whom the Green & Whites had already secured a 1:0 victory in the first encounter in Belarus. Rapid's trainer team was forced to make do without the services of Philipp Schobesberger who missed out through injury, but nonetheless the aim was clear: get the win against Minsk and capitalise on any potential slip up from Villarreal in the Czech Republic in the group’s other fixture of the evening.

The early stages of the game saw both sides looking to feel their way into the match, with Rapid enjoying plenty of early possession; albeit mostly in the middle third of the pitch. When the first chance of the evening did arrive, it should really have resulted in Rapid taking the lead: Thanos Petsos was tripped in the box after having received a pass from Steffen Hofmann, who took the spot kick for his side. However the Rapid Skipper's penalty was weak and at a nice height for Minsk keeper Gutor, who dived to his left to make a comfortable save (20.)! Not to be deterred by the early set back, the Hütteldorfers continued to be the more positive side and again came close to taking the lead when from an Alar corner Matej Jelic's movement at the near post created some space for a header, but the striker's effort lacked direction, finding only the side netting (27.). Just two minutes later though the majority on the 34,800 strong crowd were on their feet celebrating the break through: as Minsk managed to clear a corner and began pushing up the pitch, the ball was played back into the area towards the onside Max Hofmann, who, just a couple of yards from goal saw his initial headed effort saved by the guests’ goalie, but the re-bound fell straight back to him, and he had no problems stabbing the ball home from close range to bag only his second competitive goal for Rapid - 1:0 (29.)!

With Minsk very effectively sitting deep and looking to play on the counter, further chances were remaining at a premium. In fact, the Belarussians' tactics nearly paid off just before half time: a swift attack culminated in Korytko hammering a low right footed shot across Richard Strebinger from inside the right hand side of the penalty area. The wonderfully struck shot thudded into the foot of the post and back out, with Strebinger well beaten (41.). However Rapid survived the scare and took a deserved one goal lead into the half time break.


The pattern of the game didn’t change much at the start of the second 45 minutes: Rapid were looking to force the issue, albeit in a calm and controlled manner, whilst Minsk were continuing to keep numbers behind the ball and hoping to do damage on the counter. There were few noteworthy chances before the hour mark, but when one did materialise Matej Jelic cashed in: nice interplay between Mario Pavelic and Flo Kainz saw the full back make his way into the Minsk box, where he fed a perfectly weighted pass into Jelic, who took the shot on first time, guiding the ball sweetly across Gutor and low into the bottom left hand corner - 2:0 (59.)!

Just as it appeared the Hüttledorfers may have done enough to enjoy the rest of the evening in a relatively comfortable position, the visitors hit back when substitute El Monir found space in the Rapid defensive third to halve his side’s arrears (64.). Dinamo did their best to rally in the closing stages, but despite them injecting a bit more tension and tempo into the match, Richard Strebinger's goal never really came under threat in the remainder of the match. The closest either side came to finding another goal was when Petsos tested Gutor with a powerful shot as the game entered injury time (90.). The final whistle went and news came in from the Czech Republic that Viktoria Plzen had held Villarreal to a 3:3 draw! The combination of results meant Rapid claimed top spot in group E with an impressive 15 points!

The Green & Whites have produced some tremendous football on the international stage this year, and can now look forward to being in the hat for the knock-out rounds where the name Rapid Vienna is finally back in amongst some other elite clubs. However its not time to relax for the boys just yet: on the weekend a mouth-watering table-topping clash against RB Salzburg lies in wait for Zoran Barisic and his European heroes! 



UEFA Europa League, 6th round:
SK Rapid - Dinamo Minsk 2:1 (1:0)
Ernst-Happel-Stadium, 32.800 Attendance, Ref Aghajew (AZE)

Goals: 1:0 M. Hofmann (29.), 2:0 Jelic (59.), 2:1 El Monir (64.);

SK Rapid: Strebinger - Pavelic, Sonnleitner, M. Hofmann, Auer - Petsos, Schwab - Alar (80./Stangl), S. Hofmann (65./Grahovac), Kainz - Jelic (71./Prosenik);

Dinamo Minsk: Gutor - Witus, Bangura, Politewitsch, Begunow - Korytko (85./Bulyga), Premudrow (61./Woronkow), Korsun, Udoji - Beciraj, Adamovic (64./El Monir);

Yellow Card: Auer;