18.12.2016 18:24
tipico Bundesliga, Team

Disappointment in final game of 2016

The last fixture of the calender year saw Rapid travel westwards into the Alpine countryside to take on Bundesliga surprise package Altach. With the injury crisis fully gripping the Green & Whites, even the return of captain Steffen Hofmann to the the first team squad couldn't prevent Rapid being unable to fill their full quota of substitutes: with defender Max Wöber dropping out late due to illness an empty space on the Rapid bench remained void.

With Mario Sonnleitner struggling for full match fitness and Christopher Schösswendter unavailable for selection, the Hütteldorfers reverted to a back three, a formation not seen in recent outings. At the other end of the pitch a three pronged front line consisting of Giorgi Kvilitaia, Louis Schaub and Joelinton looked to contain enough firepower to worry the Vorarlberg side's defence.

But the first moments of offensive excitement took place in and around Rapid's own penalty area. This early pressure from the hosts manifested itself in tangible rewards in the 7th minute: not without controversy, Philipp Netzer stabbed home from close range following a free kick, despite looking to be a good few yards offside - 0:1 (7.). Following the goal Damir Canadi's side managed to retain the ball better on his return to his old stomping ground, but clear cut chances remained hard to come by for the Hütteldorfers. Indeed, the first half was characterised by a string of heavy tackles, fouls and breaks in play, as the game struggled to find any sort of flow or rhythm with the goalies at both ends proving little more than spectators. It was until the second forty-five that Rapid began to carve out sights of goal.


Joelinton's spectacular overhead kick drew a smart stop from home keeper Lukse, as the second half got off to a more promising start (50.). Just as Rapid looked to be getting on top of their opponents Altach struck for a second time: Austria U21 international Nikola Dovedan was on hand in the Rapid penalty to add to his side's tally with an ice cool finish that seemed to put the dampeners on an improving Hütteldorfer eleven – 0:2 (55.). Nevertheless Canadi would have been pleased with his sides response, which saw them get back into the match almost immediately: Srdjan Grahovac stepped up to take a free kick after Joelinton was felled on the edge of the Altach box, and planted an unstoppable  shot beyond the reach of Lukse to halve the deficit - 1:2 (59.). Incredibly, Rapid soon undid their hard work as they allowed Netzer to ghost into the box and convert a free kick from Andreas Lienhart to bag his second of the afternoon and restore Altach's two goal cushion.

The rest of the match contained few highlights from a Rapid perspective, as the Green & Whites huffed and puffed but failed to find enough guile to break down Altach's wily defence and mount a serious comeback. The biggest cheer of the afternoon from the traveling Viennese fans was reserved for the 77th minute introduction of skipper Steffen Hofmann, who made his comeback from injury. Despite the presence of their talisman on the field, Rapid never looked like forcing their way back into the match and went down to the seventh league defeat of the season. Heading into 2017 the squad and trainer team certainly have it all to do to reduce the chasm between our current 7th spot and the top 4 places and European football.



tipico Bundesliga, 20th round:
SCR Altach - SK Rapid 3:1 (1:0)
Cashpoint-Arena, 7.200 Attendance, Ref Muckenhammer

Goals: 1:0 Netzer (7.), 2:0 Dovedan (55.), 2:1 Grahovac (59.), Netzer (60.);

SK Rapid spielte mit: Strebinger; Auer (77. S. Hofmann), M. Hofmann , Dibon, Schrammel; Thurnwald, Grahovac, Murg; Kvilitaia (77. Tomi), Schaub (71. Szanto), Joelinton;