21.02.2016 19:00
Team, tipico Bundesliga

Sturm 0:2 Rapid: Green & Whites find right answer in Graz

Whilst three games in a week presents plenty of hurdles to overcome, it can also come as a blessing in disguise. Following Thursday's thrashing in Spain Rapid faced another tough challenge: a trip to the notoriously atmospheric UPC Arena to face Austrian heavyweights Sturm Graz. Zoran Barisic would have been keen to see how his young side would respond to their European setback, and would have been undoubtedly delighted with the answer. Srdjan Grahovac and Thomas Murg came into the side to compensate for the loss of expected absentees Kainz and Hofmann, with Stefan Schwab playing further forward to compensate for the loss of the Rapid skipper.

Matches with Sturm are rarely straight forward encounters, and predictably the start of the match was an action packed affair: Offenbacher nearly capitalised on some early indecision in the Green & White rearguard, but his shot from distance was well tipped over the bar by Richard Strebinger (4.). After riding out a tough opening to the game, Rapid began finding their feet and promptly stole ahead: a beautiful defence splitting pass from Thanos Petsos released the flying Philipp Schobesberger, who outfoxed Sturm keeper Esser with a cheeky step-over before slotting into an empty net to hand Rapid the advantage – 1:0 (12.)! It was a case of history repeating itself as the same player scored an incredibly similar goal, on the same ground during the 2:2 on our last visit to Graz - a goal that had also made it 1:0 to Rapid.

Mario Sonnleitner nearly put through his own net against his former employers, but the ball went just wide following a dangerous in swinging corner as Sturm sought to respond (14.). But in general the Black & Whites were finding it difficult to get any meaningful efforts on goal and were largely reduced to long range efforts, such as Klem's deflected shot from range that landed of the roof of Strebinger's net (27.). Murg drew a save from Esser, likewise with a long shot, with the last effort of note in a satisfactory first half from a Rapid point of view (38.).


The second half didn't match the first in terms of intensity, but that was no bad thing for the Hütteldorfers, who played with a calm assurance throughout the majority of the second period. It took until the 70th minute before the game sprung into life, and there were relieved glances exchanged between the Rapid players as Schick's shot hit Strebinger's post and rebounded away to safety (70.). To compound the hosts frustrations, the Green & Whites promptly went up the other end and put the game beyond the Styrians: a deep ball from Pavelic again got the lightning quick Schobesberger in behind the Sturm defence; this time the flying forward calmly rounded Esser to virtually seal the win for Zoran Barisic's side - 2:0 (71.)!

Substitute Philipp Prosenik could've made it three but could only find the side netting when himself through on goal. It mattered little though, as a solid Rapid defence kept Sturm comfortably at bay to ensure the Green & Whites recorded an excellent away win at a difficult ground against a dangerous opponent. The three points ensure that the Huetteldorfers remain neck and neck with RB Salzburg at the top of the Bundesliga table.



tipico Bundesliga, 23rd round:
Sturm Graz - SK Rapid 0:2 (0:1)
UPC-Arena, 12.571 Attendance, Ref Drachta

Goals: 0:1 Schobesberger (12.), 0:2 Schobesberger (71.);

Sturm Graz: Esser - Kayhan (63. Dobras), Avlonitis (72. M. Stankovic), Kamavuaka, Lykogiannis - Offenbacher - Schick, Horvath, Gruber (59. Edomwonyi), Klem - Kienast;

SK Rapid: Strebinger - Pavelic, Sonnleitner, M. Hofmann, Stangl - Grahovac, Petsos - Murg (70. Alar), Schwab (88. Tomi), Schobesberger - Jelic (74. Prosenik)

Yellow Cards: Schick, Klem; Grahovac;