St. Pölten - Rapid: Green & Whites pegged back in Lower Austria
Rapid travelled to Bundesliga new-boys St. Pölten on the weekend looking to add to their two victories on the spin in the league. The match represented the first ever competitive game between Rapid and the near-by side from Lower Austria, and 8000 fans packed into the intimate NV Arena- which had sold out days in advance. Kelvin Arase was once again in Mike Büskens' squad, whilst there were also spots for the recovered duo Christopher Dibon and Arnor Traustason.
The Green & Whites put their stamp on the game early, and would dominate large swathes of the match across the entire ninety minutes. The first moment of danger arrived for the hosts when defender Stec was required to intervene and turn a goal-bound deflected cross from Stefan Schwab over the crossbar (9.). Just minutes later, Richard Strebinger - constantly growing in stature over the past month or so – produced a fine piece of goalkeeping when he rushed off of his line to narrow the angle and save from Schütz, after the St. Pölten man had avoided the attentions of the Rapid defence and found himself bearing down one-on-one with on the Rapid custodian (11.). At the other end Tamas Szanto threatened, when he got on the end of a Mario Pavelic cross (21.), whilst Louis Schaub passed up the best opportunity of the half so far for the Viennese: A Schwab cross into the six-yard-box found Schaub perfectly, who in turn directed his glancing effort wide of the target (36.). However, on the strike of half time Rapid found the breakthrough their pressure had deserved: St. Pölton’s Hartl was unlucky as he handled a cross into the box, Joelinton made no mistake with the resulting spot kick coolly slamming the ball into the corner - 1:0 (45.)!
Directly after the restart Louis Schaub had the chance to add a crucial second, but failed to get a Thomas Murg cross under control whilst in space in the box (46.). A long range effort that narrowly missed the target from Szanto followed (55.), as the home side looked content to drop deeper and deeper and look to feed off scraps in the attacking third. It was a tactic that paid off on the hour mark: A long ball into the Rapid penalty area was not properly dealt with by the Green & White rearguard, allowing Petrovic to steal in and stab home from close range - 1:1 (59.).
The Hütteldorfers looked to respond by wresting back the attacking initiative, but struggled to find the necessary penetration to re-take the lead.
A header from Joelinton comfortably cleared the crossbar (66.), before Schaub worked home keeper Riegler as the game headed towards the final ten minutes following good play from Thomas Schrammel (77.). That was to be as good as it would get the for the Green & Whites in the closing stages, with Mike Büskens and his players forced to settle for a point. Attention now turns to Thursday and a trip to the Spain’s Basque country to face Athletic Bilbao in the UEFA Europa League.
tipico Bundesliga, 9th round:
St. Pölten - SK Rapid 1:1 (0:1)
NV-Arena, 8.000 Attendance, Ref San (SUI)
Goals: 0:1 (45.+3) Joelinton, 1:1 (59.) Petrovic;
St. Pölten: Riegler - Stec, Huber, Petrovic, Pirvulescu - Hartl (80. Dober), Martic (92. Grasegger), Perchtold, Schütz - Keita, Segovia (83. Luckassen);
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Pavelic, Schößwendter, Dibon, Schrammel - Grahovac, Schwab - Schaub, Szanto (79. Arase), Murg - Joelinton;
Yellow Cards: Stec, Petrovic, Martic; Schwab