24.11.2016 23:32
UEFA Europa League, Team

UEFA Europa League: European hopes ended in Genk

And so we returned to Genk, where optically very little had changed from our previous encounter three years ago, and the 500 travelling Viennese supporters attempted to again make themselves at home in the Luminus Arena which  was no easy task given the freezing temperatures. Again, as was the case three years ago, ex Rapid-Star Axel Lawaree was a panelist in the Belgian TV studio. There was plenty of change on the field however, as Damir Canadi opted not only to switch to a 3-5-2 formation but also make changes to the starting personnel: Jan Novota replaced Richard Strebinger in goal; the three centre backs consisted of captain Mario Sonnleitner, Schösswendter and Dibon; whilst Thomas Schrammel and Manuel Thurnwald operated as wing backs. Grahovac and Wöber were set to add steel in defensive midfield, whilst converting any swift counter attacks into goals was the business of attackers Schaub, Traustason, and Joelinton.

As in Bilbao the Hütteldorfer eleven took to the field sporting their red and white changed strip, and this time looked to move the ball up the field quickly, not afraid to go direct. It was the hosts though, who snatched the early intiative: one of the Belgian's first attacks saw a teasing cross swung into the Rapid penalty area, where it was guided onto the crossbar via the head of Bailey. The rebound fell kindly to Karelis, who stabbed home from close range to put Genk into the lead - 0:1 (10.). It was an inauspicious start to the match for the Green & Whites, but as the game wore on Canadi's side began to find a rhythm: a searching pass from Traustason was just beyond the reach of the well positioned Joelinton as Rapid starting producing goal threat (22.).


Nonetheless Genk should of gone two up a minute later when Bailey broke free down the flank before picking out the unmarked Karelis, who thankfully lifted his chip over the bar (23.). It looked as if there was potential for Rapid to cause Genk problems at the back, but despite working themselves into some promising situations there was a lack of quality in the final ball. The best opportunity to restore parity throughout the rest of the half fell to Louis Schaub, who despite failing to bring the ball under control at the first attempt, still managed to get off a shot on goal that was blocked by a defender and cleared to safety (40.).

At the beginning of the second half Rapid would have been looking to build on the momentum they had began to gather in the closing minutes of the first period, but instead they came under pressure minutes after the restart: Karelis was again the danger man, this time drawing a smart stop from Novota from close range (48.). From the resulting set piece Thomas Buffel again threatened Novota's goal, but his arrowed drive went a foot or so wide of the far post (48.). Then, suddenly, on the hour mark a golden chance for the Green & Whites: Joelinton seized on a defensive error to race through one on one  with goalkeeper Bizot, but the Belgian stopper came out on top against his Brazilian opponent and a gilt edged chance to level was passed up (60.).


With the position in a hitherto tight qualification group suddenly taking on a do or die look as news came in about the score in Bilbao, Rapid had to leave themselves open and go hunting the goals that would keep their European adventure alive. However it was the Belgians that continued to create scoring opportunities, underlined by Susic's 68th minute drive that Novota deflected away using his fists. Bailey had a late opportunity to add some gloss to the score line for the hosts (87.) but it proved academic: in the parallel game in the group victory for Bilbao meant that Canadi's side were eliminated from the competition heading into the last match day.

With games coming thick and fast there is little time to dwell on this European disappointment: on Sunday Rapid take on Sturm Graz, with three points a must if the Hütteldorfers are to re-ignite a challenge for the top spots in the Bundesliga.



UEFA Europa League, 5th match day:
KRC Genk - SK Rapid 1:0 (1:0)
Luminus Arena, 10.000 Attendance, Ref Kruzliak (SVK)

Goal: 1:0 Karelis (10.);

Genk: Bizot - Castagne, Brabec, Colley, Nastic - Susic (79./Heynen), Ndidi, Pozuelo - Bailey, Karelis (85./Samatta), Buffel (90./Trossard);

SK Rapid: Novota - Thurnwald (73./Kvilitaia), Sonnleitner, Schößwendter, Dibon, Schrammel - Grahovac, Wöber, Schaub (84./Jelic) - Traustason, Joelinton (63./Schobesberger);

Yellow Cards: Pozuelo, Bizot; Wöber, Kvilitaia, Dibon