03.04.2016 17:07
Team, tipico Bundesliga

Pegged back against Salzburg

In the air around the Ernst-Happel-Stadium on Sunday there was a tangible sense of the magnitude of the game ahead: table toppers Salzburg were the guests in the capital; and with Rapid just four points off top spot the rewards for a victory were clear. The atmosphere inside the national stadium was suitably electric, with the Rapid fans once again living up to their reputation of one of the finest sets of supporters in European football, as they produced a stunning visual feast by way of a huge choreography that seemingly engulfed the entire city.

Missing the midfield spark so often supplied by Thanos Petsos - who fell victim to injury in training on Friday - the Hütteldorfers got of to a composed and accomplished start, as they wrested possession and began calmly probing the opposition defence. The first sign of danger arrived on the quarter hour mark when Salzburg keeper Walke struggled to gather a Flo Kainz cross (15.), before Mario Pavelic tried his luck from distance with a shot that cleared the crossbar (25.). Just minutes later Viennese heads were in hands as the laws of physics somehow contrived to rescue Salzburg from falling a goal behind: Steffen Hofmann received the ball in a promising, central position on the edge of the Red Bull box, from where the Rapid skipper hit a low left footed shot that smacked against the inside of the right hand post before rolling along the line onto the opposite post and rebounding into the arms of the extremely relieved Walke (29.). It was an incredible slice of luck for the guests from Salzburg, who offered very little by way of first half attacking threat.

Incredibly the woodwork would again leap to Salzburg's rescue in a first half that saw Green & White in total ascendency: a deep cross from the left flank from Kainz picked out Louis Schaub at the back post, who did everything right but couldn’t believe his luck as his headed effort clipped the outside of the post with Walke again beaten (37.)! The under-pressure keeper was called into action one more time by a deflected Schaub effort to ensure his side somehow escaped the first half with the deadlock still in tact (39.).



Directly after the re-start the move Rapid's football had been threatening for the entirety of the game finally materialised as the Green & Whites deliciously punctured Salzburg's resistance: a slick passing move sliced through a static opposition and culminated in Steffen Hofmann picking out Louis Schaub, who played a one-two with Flo Kainz on the edge of the penalty area and, on receiving a perfectly weighted first time pass back from his team mate, calmly danced inside a challenge before finishing low from close range to give Rapid a mightily deserved lead - 1:0 (47.)!! It was a superb footballing move that was simply too much for the opposition.

In the aftermath of the goal Rapid continued to play their high intensity football; coming out on top in head to head duels and bossing possession. A shot from Soriano briefly threatened Richard Strebinger's goal, but the under-worked Rapid keeper was perfectly positioned and never looked like being beaten by the Salzburg captain’s rising drive (67.). However, an equaliser did disappointingly arrive, as Caleta-Car rose to nod home a free kick whipped in from the right – 1:1 (75.). Rapid had been undone by a set-piece.

But, as so often in this remarkable season, Zoran Barisic's young guns refused to let their heads drop and kept pushing for a winner: Mario Pavelic went close (77.), before substitutes Schobesberger and Alar combined to fashion a final sight of goal that unfortunately failed to produce a winner (82.). The game finished level and Salzburg will be grateful to have escaped with a point. The result does mean though, with Rapid just four points off the Bundesliga summit, that a first league title since 2008 remains a real possibility.



tipico-Bundesliga, 29th round:
SK Rapid - RB Salzburg 1:1 (0:0)
Ernst-Happel-Stadium, 24.800 Attendance, Ref Hameter

Goals: 1:0 Schaub (46.), 1:1 Caleta-Car (75.);

SK Rapid: Strebinger - Pavelic, Sonnleitner, Dibon, Stangl - Grahovac, Schwab - Schaub (76./Schobesberger), S. Hofmann (67./Alar), F. Kainz (85./ Nutz) - Jelic;

RB Salzburg: Walke - Schwegler, Miranda, Caleta-Car, Ulmer - Schmitz (69./Lazaro), Bernardo, Keita (91./Pehlivan), Berisha - Soriano, Hwang (56./Reyna);

Yellow Cards: Pavelic, Grahovac; Soriano, Keita