02.03.2016 20:37
Team, tipico Bundesliga

Comfortable victory keeps title charge going

On Wednesday night Rapid welcomed SV Mattersburg to the Ernst-Happel-Stadium in what was the final match in a hat-trick of consecutive home games. The Hütteldorfers have had mixed results against the Burgenland outfit this season: having crushed them 6:1 in the Pappel Stadium, Rapid suffered a shock 2:4 home loss against the same, always unpredictable, opponent. This time out nothing less than the three points would do as Rapid looked to maintain their title push, which currently sees them going neck and neck for the Bundesliga crown with RB Salzburg.

In a complete contrast to the last home game against Grödig where the Hütteldorfers fell behind early doors, against Mattersburg a confident and fluid Rapid set about pressuring their opponents and dictating the shape and rhythm of the match. Zoran Barisic's side had a half chance to take the lead after just two minutes when a Philipp Schobesberger cross caused chaos in the visitor's penalty area, which resulted in Matej Jelic stabbing over the bar from close range (2.). Rapid continued to spray the ball about the field in a pleasing manner, forcing their opponents to cover ground and scramble around in their defensive third to keep the Hütteldorfers at bay. The next effort on goal arrived via the boot of Flo Kainz, who tried his luck from long range but got his angles just wrong (20.). Then a golden chance presented itself from in the shape of a penalty kick: a good, driving run from Stangl was prematurely brought to an end by a rash challenge from behind from Prietl, who left the referee with no option but to point to the spot. Steffen Hofmann stepped up, but was denied by a fantastic save by Mattersburg keeper Kuster, who dived to his right and stuck out a left arm to claw the ball away to safety (32.).

An un-flustered Rapid continued to calmly go about their business, re-cycle possession and probe the Mattersburg defence looking for openings. Just minutes later they found the correct answer: Steffen Hofmann laid the ball off to Stefan Schwab on the edge of the penalty area, who bent an unstoppable left footed shot from a central position high into the right hand corner, well beyond the reach of the despairing Kuster - 1:0 and finally the lead that Rapid's dominance had merited (36.)! Then on the stroke of half time things got even better for the Green & Whites: a long diagonal cross field ball found Flo Kainz on the left hand edge of the Mattersburg penalty area. Kainz killed the ball with some sublime instant control, before picking out Stefan Stangl in the penalty area with a low pass; Stangl did the rest, burying a composed low, left footed finish across Kuster and into the far right hand corner of the keeper's net - 2:0 and Rapid looking good for the three points (44.)!


Unsurprisingly Mattersburg came out for the second half looking to exert something resembling pressure on Richard Strebinger's goal. They did come close to making the Rapid keeper work when an over hit cross from Röcher grazed the top of the crossbar, but the cross-cum-shot never looked like finding its way into the net. Rapid promptly nearly added when a precise ball from Kainz played Stangl into a goal scoring position in the Mattersburg box, but Kuster was again on hand to pull off a top save and deny Stangl his second of the evening (66.). A triple change saw the introductions of Alar, Schaub and Murg, as Zoran Barisic sought to keep the energy levels up during what was Rapid's third game in a week following their previous exertions against Valencia and Grödig. It took until the 87th minute before the Green & Whites added to their tally, as Flo Kainz latched onto a dreadful clearance after Kuster had again done well to save from Deni Alar. A Mattersburg defender completely fluffed his lines, handing the ball to Kainz in the penalty area, who, for his part, skipped past the on-rushing Kuster before slamming the ball into the net despite the presence of two defenders on the line - 3:0 and a nice bit of gloss added to this very solid victory and performance.

The win ensures Rapid and Salzburg continue to trade blows in a title race that looks like it might be going down to the wire.



SK Rapid - Mattersburg 3:0 (2:0)
Ernst-Happel-Stadion, 13.200 Attendance, Ref Schüttengruber

Goals: 1:0 Schwab (36.), 2:0 Stangl (44.), 3:0 Kainz (87.);

SK Rapid: Strebinger - Pavelic, Dibon, M. Hofmann, Stangl - Petsos, Schwab - Schobesberger (66./Murg), S. Hofmann (75./Schaub), F. Kainz - Jelic (82./Alar);

Mattersburg: Kuster - Höller, Mahrer, Maksimenko, Farkas - Jano (46./Erhardt) - Prietl, Röcher (80./Ertlthaler), Sprangler - Ibser (60./Bürger), Templ;

Yellow Card: Sprangler;