Demolition Derby: Rapid hammer Austria 3:0 in Favoriten
Ahead of the 316th Vienna Derby, the Generali Arena observed a minute's silence Trifon Ivanov who recently passed away. The Rapid players donned black arm bands during the match as a traditional mark of respect. New signing Thomas Murg was named in Zoran Barisic's starting line-up and from the get go Murg and his team mates took the game to their opponents. From the off the Hüttledorfers pressing, crisp passing and high intensity football proved far too much too handle for their hosts, who could’ve fallen behind as early as the second minute: Stefan Stangl drove in from the left wing before picking out a perfectly timed run from the increasingly confident Matej Jelic, who tested Austria keeper Hadzikic at his near post with a well struck left footed effort. A header from Rotpuller that missed the target represented some rest bite for the Violets (5.), but straight afterwards the one way traffic continued to flow towards the Austria goal.
It came as little surprise when Rapid duly took the lead with less than ten minutes on the clock: a swift and controlled passing move saw Rapid easily slice through Austria and move up the pitch, with the ball eventually finding its way to Steffen Hofmann, who had found acres of space in the middle of the opposition half. The Green & White skipper drove towards the penalty area before picking out Murg with a pass the tore the hosts' defence to ribbons leaving Murg to do the rest, controlling the ball with an assured first touch before side footing a composed finish beyond Hadzikic with his left foot to hand the Hütteldorfers the lead (9.)! A goal on your full debut against your ex-employers: Thomas Murg announced his arrival in style. Little over five minutes later a clumsy challenge by Austria defender Shikov on Jelic in the left hand corner of the penalty area left the referee with little choice but to award a spot kick. Steffen Hofmann stepped up, and in true Steffen Hofmann style sent the keeper the wrong way to double Rapid’s advantage and send the packed away end into raptures (14.)! With the Austria defence struggling to contain a fluid and confident attack minded Hüttledorfer eleven, Hofmann and Co. went in search of a third. Thanos Petsos nearly found the net with a rasping drive from the edge of the box that missed the target by a matter of inches after it had taken a slight deflection (21.), whilst the lively Jelic again worked the Austria goalkeeper after more incisive attacking football had created an opening (29.). The half time whistle came at just the right time for the Favoriten side, who were on the ropes and struggling to find a foothold in the match.
With their comfortable two goal cushion Rapid sat a little deeper in the second half, happy to play possession football and spring counter attacks on a shaken opponent. Whilst Barisic's side didn't show the same cutting penetration as in the first period, their opponents struggled to find their way through an organised Rapid defence, marshalled expertly by the experienced Mario Sonnleitner. It was a case of being patient and playing the waiting game for the Hüttledorfers, and when they did launch a counter attack with little under twenty minutes to go it was to devastating effect: Flo Kainz broke away down the left wing, feeding the ball into Philipp Schobesberger’s feet on the left hand side of the six yard box. Schobesberger showed tremendous composure, turning his marker in a tight space before looking up and finding the unmarked Matej Jelic, who swept the ball first time into the near post with his left foot giving Hadzikic no chance - 3:0 (72.)!! It was game over for the Violets who had been humbled on their own patch.
The win means Rapid have tasted victory twice in a row now in Favoriten following their crushing 5:2 victory in autumn. Up next is a mouth-watering clash against struggling Spanish giants Valencia in the Mestalla in the Europa League on Thursday. Preparations could hardly have gone better. The three points also ensure that Rapid go level on points with Salzburg at the top of the Bundesliga table. Not a bad weekend’s work from Zoran Barisic and his troops!
FK Austria - SK Rapid 0:3 (0:2)
Generali Arena, 12.500 Attendance, Ref Harkam
Goals: 0:1 Murg (9.), 0:2 S. Hofmann (14./Elfmeter), 0:3 Jelic (72.);
FK Austria: Hadzikic - Koch, Sikov, Rotpuller, Martschinko - Holzhauser, Serbest - Gorgon, Kehat (46. Friesenbichler), Venuto - Kayode;
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Pavelic, Sonnleitner, M. Hofmann, Stangl - Petsos, Schwab - Murg (66. Schobesberger), S. Hofmann (60. Grahovac), F. Kainz - Jelic (77. Tomi);
Yellow Cards: Venuto, Sikov, Kayode; Jelic, S. Hofmann;