No lack of effort but no way through: 0:0 in Zhodino
The humid weather that had been hanging over Minsk since the arrival of the Rapid party in Belarus didn't let up as the Europa League clash with Torpedo Zhodino got under way, creating sapping and sticky playing conditions. The game took place about an hour’s drive from the capital as Rapid locked horns with the Belarussian cup holders.
As expected Christopher Dibon and Thomas Murg had recovered from knocks sustained last time out against Ried to take part in the first match of what everyone hopes will be another prolonged European campaign. Unsurprisingly Trainer Mike Büskens elected to go with the same starting eleven that had faired so well on the opening day of the Bundesliga. Roughly 100 Rapid fans made the lengthy trip to support their side and managed to out-sing the 4000 strong home crowd. The fans set the tone for the on field action, as the Hütteldorfers quickly found their stride and began bossing the early exchanges. The first chances of the match were fashioned by the Viennese: After working his way into the box brilliantly, Thomas Murg failed to get a telling connection from a decent shooting position (17.); before Christoph Schösswendter rose above his marker but sent his header over the crossbar (37.). A free kick from Thomas Murg hit the target but didn't overly trouble home goalie Fomichev, whilst Louis Schaub dragged a shot wide in the last meaningful attack of a satisfactory opening forty-five minutes (42.).
Rapid emerged for the start of the second half unchanged having delivered a good performance albeit lacking the necessary precision in the final third. An effort from Louis Schaub represented the first attempt on goal following the restart (50.), before the hosts began finding their way into the match. Zhodino, whilst lacking a touch of quality to really threaten Jan Novota's goal, were moving the ball into more and more dangerous areas and began to create a small head of attacking steam. Despite continuing to boss possession and territory, the Green & Whites were finding it difficult to translate their ascendency in the match into clear cut chances: A Louis Schaub headed effort was the best Rapid could muster during the middle phase of the half (61.).
The introduction of Ivan Mocinic provided fresh attacking impetuous, and with new energy on the field Louis Schaub was presented with a good opportunity as he met a cross on the full, but unfortunately couldn't keep his shot on target (70.). The last twenty minutes saw the Belarussian side happy to concede territory and defend deep, and confronted with a well-organized and packed defence, Rapid didn't manage to manufacture the crucial opening that would have given them the all-important away goal. The game finished 0:0 with the Hütteldorfers nonetheless well placed to finish the job off in a week’s time in the Allianz stadium.
UEFA Europa League:
Torpedo Zhodino - SK Rapid 0:0
Torpedo-Stadion, 4.000 Attendance, Ref Arnason (ISL)
Torpedo Zhodino: Fomitschew - Imerekow, Klopotski, Lutsewitsch, Tschelijadinski, Pankowets - Demidowitsch (91./Belewitsch), Chachaturijan, Schapowal, Afanasiew (87./Scherbo) - Sagijnailow (71./Golenkow);
SK Rapid: Novota - Pavelic, Schösswendter, Dibon, Schrammel - Grahovac, Schwab - Murg (85./Mocinic), Schaub, Schobesberger (70./Traustason) - Joelinton;
Yellow Card: Grahovac;