ÖFB Samsung Cup: Green & Whites through to 3rd Round
Rapid went into the Cup duel with SV Leobendorf on the back of a rich vein of form that had seen them dispatch Genk in the UEFA Europa League and Mattersburg in the Bundesliga. Despite the opposition coming from the fourth tier of Austrian football, there was no room for underestimating Leobendorf as the Green & Whites sought to avoid being on the wrong end of a giant killing, and rather sought to secure safe passage into the last sixteen of the competition.
If any warning was required, the squad needed only to cast their minds back to the previous season, where a plucky SKU Amstetten had taken Rapid all the way to penalties before finally succumbing. Nonetheless, Mike Büskens unsurprisingly shuffled his pack somewhat, with Jan Novota, Auer, Steffen Hofmann, and Kvilitaia all being rotated into the starting formation.
Opening for Hofmann
Rapid made a bright start to the game and looked to get down the wings and maximise the width of the pitch. By contrast, the home side sought to cut down space and limit room, content to sit in deep in their own half and look to feed off any turnovers on the counter. With the side from lower Austria content to concede territory, Rapid enjoyed the lion's share of the possession in the opening quarter of an hour, but failed to make any real headway in terms of creating clear cut chances. That was until Thomas Murg played a delicious slide-rule pass into Steffen Hofmann, bisecting the non-league outfit's defence and putting the club skipper through one on one with the goalkeeper. Unfortunately, Leobendorf's goalie Gschwindl came out on top and the deadlock remained intact (16.).
With the Green & Whites seeing so much of the ball, things perhaps got a little casual and the hosts fired off a reminder that they weren’t there simply to make up the numbers: A swift move resulted in Konrad receiving the ball in the penalty area and getting a shot away, which he thankfully put wide from a promising position (21.). The effort gave the home side an injection of self belief, and they began to exert some pressure on the Rapid defence, culminating in a cross into the box and a shot from Demic that - despite being routinely gathered by Novota - provided a sign that Rapid needed to up their game (26.).
Shortly before the break the Green & Whites thought they had gone ahead, when Schoesswendter guided a Murg free-kick into the net with his head, only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside (38.). The scene represented the last goalmouth action of the half, and so the teams went into the break with the score still at 0:0.
Schösswendter at it again
Neither manager opted for a change at half time, and as the second period got under way Rapid again took over pace setting responsibilities, but this time their efforts were rewarded: frustrated at having had his first half header cancelled out, Schoesswendter was at it again, this time nodding home from a corner, but this time no flag - 1:0 for Rapid, and a vital goal from a defender who is always a handful in the opposition's box (50.). With Rapid getting their noses in front the tempo and sting were taken out of the match, with the onus switching to SV Leobendorf who had now to come forwards.
At the other end of the pitch Rapid passed up chances to put the game to bed, a prime example of which was Thomas Murg's 66th minute failure to beat Gschwindl in a one on one situation. The home side began throwing everything forwards in a bid to grab some glory and write themselves into the history books. They nearly managed it, too, when deep into injury time the ball fell to Leuchtmann after a manic goalmouth scramble, but he put his shot from the edge of the area over the crossbar (95.). The final whistle went and Rapid ensured their name will go into the hat for the third round draw. The result was tighter than many expected, but in cup football the only important issue is staying in the competition. Rapid achieved that, and will now eagerly wait to find out their opponents in the next round.
ÖFB Samsung Cup, 2nd round:
SV Leobendorf - SK Rapid 0:1 (0:0)
Sportclub-Platz, 3.500 Attendance
Goal: Schösswendter (50.);
SK Rapid: Novota; Auer, Schösswendter, M. Hofmann, Schrammel; Mocinic, Grahovac; Murg, S. Hofmann (69. Arase), Szanto (90. Schwab); Kvilitaia (78. Joelinton);