Schaub hat-trick inspires historic win: 4:0 vs Trencin
On Thursday night Rapid were again on their travels and accompanied by a familiar sight: as kick-off came nearer and nearer the away end started to fill up with travelling fans. An impressive 2000 made the trip from Vienna to neighbouring Zilina, creating a sea of Green & White ahead of the first leg of the UEFA Europa League Play-Off. The Hütteldorfers' opponents won the double last season in Slovakia, and as such Rapid approached the game with full respect for the opposition but without any fear and confident of progression.
Rapid started the game compact in the defensive third and looking to play their brand of passing football higher up the field. On a superb pitch, the Green & Whites quickly settled into the occasion and began manufacturing chances: Joelinton nearly got on the end of a teasing cross from Schobesberger (3.), before the Brazilian struck the outside of the post with a snap-shot (10.). The hosts carried threat down the flanks but failed to turn any promising build up play into concrete chances. At the other end Louis Schaub fed the ball into the advanced Mario Pavelic, who dragged a decent effort just wide of the far post (20.). Then Stefan Schwab picked out Schobesberger with a precise long pass with the winger guiding his attempted chip into the arms of of home keeper Chovan (24.). It was again Schobesberger who had the next sight of goal, his low shot missing the target by a matter of inches (28.).
It seemed a matter of time until Rapid's pressure would eventually be rewarded with a goal - and so it proved: Pavelic picked out Schwab in the Tencin penalty area, the midfield man crossed with his weaker right foot to Louis Schaub, who tucked away a precise header to give his side the goal their performance had merited - 1:0 (32.)! Just minutes later Rapid almost doubled their lead when Joelinton tested Chovan, who could only parry the ball back into the danger zone. With Louis Schaub looking to pounce the hosts' defence managed to scramble the ball to safety. An off target header from Udeh was the best Trencin could offer by way of a response in the first half, and with no further action at either end Rapid went into half time sitting pretty on an away goal.
The second half began as the first had ended, with the Hütteldorfers in control and looking to force more goals. Thomas Murg replaced Philipp Schobesberger and was immediately involved in the move that lead to Rapid's second of the evening: Murg's corner was flicked on by Joelinton towards the back post, where Louis Schaub stooped to bag his second of the game and his 14th in only 23 European appearances - 2:0 (54.)!
Not satisfied to rest on their two goal cushion, Rapid kept driving forwards and made it three through the impressive Schwab, who drove into the Tencin penalty area before dinking a deft chip over the onrushing Chovan - 3:0 and the travelling support again in European dream land (74.)! Udeh then nearly pulled one back for the hosts, but his header was deflected over the bar via an intervention from Schösswendter. Instead of reducing the arrears though, it was again Chovan who would be picking the ball out of his net for a fourth time before the final whistle. On an incredible night for Louis Schaub, the mercurial winger burst into the left hand side of the penalty area before unleashing a ferocious left footed strike that simply beat the Tencin goal keeper for raw pace - 4:0, Schaub hat-trick, and Rapid on one foot in the Europa League group phase (83.)!!
The match represented another sterling effort from a maturing Rapid side on the international stage, and was our biggest margin of victory in an away match in Europe since 2005 when we won 6:1 in Düdelingen. A night to savour then, and another one for the history books. Rapid!
UEFA Europa League, Play Off:
AS Trencin - SK Rapid 0:4 (0:1)
Zilina, Stadion pod Dubnom, 4.065 Attendance, Ref Johannesson (SWE)
Gaols: 0:1 Schaub (32.), 0:2 Schaub (54.), 0:3 Schwab (73.), 0:4 Schaub (83.);
AS Trencin: Chovan - Sulek, Udeh, Klescik, Holubek - Lawrence (80./Ket) - Kalu, Paur, Janco (62./Rabiu), Bala (63./Prekop) - Janga;
SK Rapid: Novota - Pavelic, Schößwendter, Dibon, Schrammel - Grahovac, Mocinic - Schaub (86./Auer), Schwab, Schobesberger (50./Murg) - Joelinton (84./Entrup);
Yellow Card: Sulek