Off-colour Rapid slip to away defeat
In the Salzburg sunshine and with confidence high after the convincing victories over Austria and Sturm, Rapid went into the match against bottom club SV Grödig hot favourites to continue their winning streak. However, the home side hadn't read the script, and fought from the first minute until the last as they battled to preserve their Bundesliga status.
Struggling to pick a way through
Despite a positive opening phase from the Hütteldorfers, the early warning signs were there: neat football in the opposition half was often breaking down in and around the Grödig penalty area, as the hosts defended deep and compact from the outset. Flo Kainz did manage to fashion a chance for Steffen Hofmann though, as he twisted and turned past his marker in the penalty before the laying the ball off to his skipper, who lifted a first time left-footed effort over the crossbar (21.). Nonetheless, sights of goal remained at a premium for the Green & Whites, who at the other end, were being kept on their toes by Grödig's willingness to break forwards in numbers when the chance arose.
Trailing at half time
Just minutes after Hofmann's effort, Tomi found himself in an excellent position in the opposition box following an intelligent quickly taken free kick from Stefan Schwab, but his effort on goal was saved by keeper Swete, who had rushed of his line to narrow the angle (26.). Just as Rapid may have felt they were beginning to look more menacing in front of goal, it was the hosts who went ahead: Schütz crossed from the right flank into the penalty area, where Strebinger only half dealt with the danger. Mario Pavelic attempted to mop up the situation, but his attempted clearance fell kindly to Rasner, who hammered the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area - 0:1 and Rapid with work to do (36.). Just seconds before half time it looked like Rapid would haul themselves level, but Louis Schaub managed to clear the crossbar with a right footed shot from an extremely inviting position after having been set up by an cute back-heel from Tomi (44.).
Looking for the equaliser
The pattern of the game changed little in the second half: Rapid continued to struggle to find a route to goal, whilst Grödig - now happily sat on a one goal lead - continued to sit deep, soak up whatever pressure the Green & Whites could muster, and then looked to hit the Huetteldorfers on the counter. Disappointingly it appeared as if Rapid were to find a way to goal it would arrive via a set piece. A few free kicks from Steffen Hofmann found a Rapid head, but whilst the likes of Dibon and Tomi managed to occasionally win some balls in the box, the Grödig goal was rarely threatened.
One to forget for Strebinger
A rash tackle from Max Hofmann on the edge of his own penalty area presented the home side with the chance to register a rare effort on the Rapid goal. Kerschbaum bent an innocuous looking effort into the hands of Richard Strebinger, who somehow failed to gather the soft free kick, and turned to watch it agonisingly squirm over the line - 0:2 (63.). The Rapid bench reacted, sending on Schobesberger and Jelic in an attempt to rescue a game that was quickly getting away. It took until the final fifteen minutes though before any real moments of danger for Grödig materialised; the first of which arrived via the boot of Jelic, who could only unleash a weak, scuffed effort from a good position that did little to trouble Swete (78.). Ex-Rapid man Harry Pichler then almost gifted his former employers a route back into the game, when his back header cleared keeper Swete – but, unfortunately from a Green & White perspective – also the crossbar (82.). With time running out Steffen Hofmann rattled Swete's goal frame with an expert free kick; but despite the ball striking the underside of the bar it still was cleared to safety (86.). That was as close as Rapid would come to registering themselves on the score board, and despite five minutes of additional time they never looked like rescuing a point, eventually going down to a 0:2 defeat – the second defeat in Grödig this term.
tipico Bundesliga, 33rd round:
SV Grödig - SK Rapid 2:0 (1:0)
Goals: 1:0 Rasner (36.), 2:0 Kerschbaum (63.);
Grödig: Swete - Itter, Strauss, Pichler, Strobl (77./Denner) - Brauer - Schütz (66./R. Wallner), Kerschbaum (77./Völkl), Rasner, B. Sulimani - Ofosu;
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Pavelic, Dibon, M. Hofmann, Auer - Nutz (66./Jelic), Schwab - Schaub (66./Schobesberger), S. Hofmann, F. Kainz (83./Alar) – Tomi;