10.09.2016 18:02

Sturm 1:1 Rapid: Solid point earned from tough away trip

With a sold out stadium in Graz and late Summer sun bathing Styria, the scene was set for the stand out fixture of the latest round of Bundesliga matches. Prior to kick-off a minute's silence descended over the normally raucous stadium as the recently passed away Karl Schlechta was remembered for his contribution to both Sturm and Rapid. Steffen Hofmann, who yesterday celebrated his 36th birthday, and Thomas Murg were back in the squad after short injury lay-offs, whilst Tamas Szanto came into Mike Büskens' starting line-up as the Rapid bench made minor alterations for the match against Franko Foda's early table toppers.

The opening half an hour of a keenly contested match saw the Hütteldorfers bossing proceedings. There was an early moment of danger for the hosts when Arnor Traustason nearly got on the end of a Schösswendter flick on from a Szanto corner (2.). Not long afterwards Louis Schaub picked out Joelinton with a dinked ball into the 6-yard box but the Brazilian couldn’t get enough purchase on his header to threaten Sturm keeper Grazei's goal (11.).

With an organized Rapid defence comfortably keeping Graz at arm's length it came as something of a surprise – and against the run of play – when the hosts went ahead: Schulz rose highest from a corner to plant a well-directed header beyond the reach of Richard Strebinger and into the roof of the net – 0:1 (22.). The goal came just minutes after Christopher Dibon had made an enforced exit after picking up a knock on his knee, with Max Hofmann coming off the bench to fill in at centre back. Louis Schaub tested Gratzei from distance (39.) before Schösswendter went close from a corner (40.), but despite Rapid's best efforts they went into the pause trailing by a one goal margin.


Having struggled to find much penetration in the first half, a far more enterprising Green & White side emerged for the second half and began to pierce Sturm’s effective rearguard. There was still plenty to keep Richard Strebinger interested at the other end of the field though, highlighted by Hierländer who forced the Rapid keeper into a smart stop from almost point blank range after capitalizing on a mistake from Max Hofmann (50.). Just seconds later Strebinger was again called into action, this time to repel a long range effort from Matic (52.).

Despite Sturm looking dangerous Rapid were also carrying a cutting edge and managed to haul themselves level: Louis Schaub went on a mazy run into the Graz penalty area before firing off a low shot that Grazei could only parry. The ball dropped to Joelinton, who had his effort saved, but Gratzei's luck ran out as Szanto was on hand to stab home from close range into an open goal - 1:1 and Rapid deservedly back in the match thanks to Szanto’s first senior goal for the club (53.)! Joelinton then nearly put Rapid ahead, but his wicked low shot was expertly tipped round the left hand post by the inform Gratzei (55.). The goalmouth action continued to flow from end to end as Hierländer was played in on goal, but the outrushing Strebinger again came out on top in a one-on-one duel with the Graz forward (70.).

Hierländer's opportunity was to be the last clear cut chance for either side as defences got on top and both teams were forced to settle for a point. The result will have pleased Mike Büskens and the rest of his coaching staff, with his side successfully negotiating one of the toughest away trips in domestic football. On Thursday attention turns back to the international arena and the match against Belgian outfit KRC Genk in the UEFA Europa League.



tipico Bundesliga, 7th round:
Sturm Graz - SK Rapid 1:1 (1:0)
Merkur Arena, 16.604 Attendance, Ref Drachta

Goals: 1:0 Schulz (22.), 1:1 Szanto (54.);

Sturm Graz: Gratzei - F. Koch, Spendlhofer, Schulz, Lykogiannis - Jeggo, Matic - Huspek (77./Dobras), Hierländer, Horvath (72./Schmerböck) - Alar (85./Kienast);

SK Rapid: Strebinger - Pavelic, Schößwendter, Dibon (19./M. Hofmann), Schrammel - Mocinic, Schwab - Schaub, Szanto (88./Grahovac), Traustason (74./Murg) - Joelinton;

Yellow Cards: Jeggo, F. Koch; Mocinic, Schwab