More points dropped in Burgenland
After a run of three successive defeats the aim was simple ahead of the trip to Burgenland to face SV Mattersburg: to claim a maximum point haul against the Bundesliga's bottom club. A win against neighbours SVM would not only give the Green & Whites' flagging confidence a much needed boost, but could also prove crucial in the run up to Christmas in not allowing the gap to the teams at the top to widen further. In freezing conditions Rapid took to the field in a 3-5-2 formation, with Mario Sonnleitner available to partner Christopher Dibon at the back after sitting out the defeat to Sturm on the weekend through suspension. Still unavailable for selection were Mario Pavelic and Philipp Schobesberger, who having made a long awaited return from injury is being eased back into regular football slowly.
Despite Mattersburg's lowly league position it was clear from kick-off that this match represented in no shape or form a simple opportunity to harvest points. An early indication of some of the pressure to come arrived in the second minute, when Richard Strebinger punched away a lofted ball to the edge of his penalty area where it was gathered by Rath, who hammered the ball well over the crossbar when he could've done better (2.). Just ten minutes later Rapid's injury woes continued when young full back Manuel Thurnwald suffered a nasty clash of heads with Maksimenko which saw him replaced by Arnor Traustason (12.). In terms of scoring opportunities the opening phase of the game remained fairly barren, as both sides took time to find their passing ranges.
A cross from the hosts' Röcher presented Varga with a good headed opportunity, but fortunately the Mattersburg man guided his header wide of the target (23.). The first sight of goal for the Hüttledorfers came when Louis Schaub did well to control a spectacular volley from a deep Traustason cross, but ultimately he could only find the side netting (38.). On the stroke of half time Rapid manufactured a golden opportunity to take the lead: Ivan Mocinic picked out Giorgi Kvilitaia with a deft pass, the Georgian striker then stepped inside a sliding tackle but with the SVM keeper going to ground early he got his finish all wrong, chipping the ball into the grateful Kuster's arms (45.).
The second half also started with Rapid carving out a guilt edged opportunity: Kvilitaia's shot across Kuster towards his left hand far post was palmed out by the Mattersburg keeper to Louis Schaub, who, with the goal gaping, took a little too long to sort his feet out, allowing Burgenlander Höller the opportunity to get back and block with a desperate lunge (49.). Schaub then found Kuster to again be his equal, when the Mattersburg goalie tipped his free kick from the edge of the area over the bar (57.). As the game entered into the final half an hour it was becoming a more open affair, with both teams finding room in and around their opponent's defensive third.
Rapid kept pushing for the breakthrough but as so often this season just as it appeared the Green & Whites were going to forge ahead disaster struck in the shape of another soft goal conceded: after a dubious free kick award on the edge of the box, Jano stepped up and took advantage of a disorganised wall to clip his shot off the inside of Strebinger's right hand post and into the back of the net - 0:1 (72.). The goal came on the back of Mattersburg's Höller having a goal chalked off for offside following a tight call by the officials. But Damir Canadi's side showed something of the Rapid spirit of old when they promptly forced their way back into the match: at the beginning of the Rapid-Viertelstunde substitute Philipp Malicsek profited from some excellent hold up play from Joelinton, who fed the ball into Malicsek's feet in the penalty area after showing tremendous strength to hold off his marker. Malicsek walked onto the ball perfectly, and from just left of the penalty spot side footed a sweet finish beyond Kuster and low into the far corner of the net – 1:1 (76.)!
In the closing stages another Rapid full back was served up a dose of disappointment, when Thomas Schrammel collected a second yellow card for a rash challenge on an opponent near the half way line. Both sides had chances to snatch victory: firstly Rapid were indebted to Richard Strebinger who pulled off a superb close range save to deny Pink who had looked odds on to score (87.); whilst Joelinton and Schaub both passed up late, late chances for the Hütteldorfers. It remained 1:1 however, and Rapid were forced to settle for a disappointing point that sees them slip temporarily to 7th place in the Bundesliga table.
tipico Bundesliga, 17th round:
SV Mattersburg - SK Rapid 1:1 (0:0)
Pappelstadion, 3.100 Attendance, Ref Ouschan
Goals: 1:0 Jano (72.), 1:1 Malicsek (76.);
SV Mattersburg: Kuster - Farkas (79. Novak), Rath, Malic, Maksimenko - Höller, Erhardt, Jano, Röcher - Varga (62. Ibser), Templ (72. Pink);
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Schösswendter, Sonnleitner, M. Hofmann - Thurnwald (13. Traustason), Mocinic (74. Malicsek), Dibon (86. Grahovac), Schaub, Schrammel - Joelinton, Kvilitaia;
Yellow Cards: Rath, Templ, Höller, Jano;
Yellow/Red Card: Schrammel (87.);