08.12.2016 21:49
tipico Bundesliga, Team

UEL: Hütteldorfers depart European stage with respectable draw

Rapid went into Thursday's UEFA Europa League clash with Athletic in the knowledge that progress in the competition was no longer a possibility. Nonetheless Damir Canadi's team were looking make a dignified exit from European football for this season and to entertain the 21,500 fans who had turned up to watch the Green & Whites lock horns with their illustrious Basque opponents. On a bitterly cold Viennese evening the Rapid fans again justified their hard earned reputation as one of Europe's most loyal sets of fans; whilst the choreography from the Block West that greeted the players onto the pitch underlined why the Rapid fans are considered a leading proprietor of European fan culture. With the injury crisis that has plagued the squad yet to lift, Canadi was again forced to delve into his squad when naming his starting line up: there was a first start of the season in goal for Tobias Knoflach; whilst the likes of Tomi, Jelic, Auer, and Wöber also were also drafted into the starting formation.


With Bilbao already through to the next round and with Rapid's fate having been sealed in Genk last time out, it perhaps not unsurprisingly took a while for the game to find its rhythm and intensity. Tomi registered one of the Hütteldorfers' first shots on target, but his effort was too central to worry his fellow countrymen (18.). An off target shot from Saborit was pretty much as good as it got for the Spaniards in the first half (33.), with the Basque outfit clearly yet to move through the gears.

In the second half however the tempo at which both sides were playing clearly increased. Knoflach was called upon just a couple of minutes after the restart, with the young goalkeeper dashing off his line to whip the ball off the toes of Eraso after he had been slipped into the channel between full back and centre half (47.). The action promptly switched to the other end of the field where a melee in the Bilbao box ended with the balling rolling kindly to Thomas Schrammel. The Rapid full back had two bites of the cherry, but saw both shots blocked by the desperate legs of lunging defenders (49.). Knoflach was then again on hand when called upon, springing into the freezing night air to claw away a goal bound drive from Muniain (55.). The extra energy on the field transmitted to the stands, and with the likes of Wöber and Schrammel giving everything to the cause and throwing their bodies on the line the crowd raised their voices and began driving Rapid forwards. Three substitutions in quick succession brought fresh impetus to the Green & Whites as an attacking force.


The trio of Schaub, Joelinton and Kvilitaia looked lively and dangerous, and it was via the foot of the Brazilian that Rapid took the lead: a quick one-two between Kvilitaia and Joelinton ended with the Georgian unleashing a shot on goal. The effort was deflected into the path of the advanced Joelinton, who slammed the ball into the net from close range to put Rapid ahead - 1:0 (72.)! An emotion fueled celebration from the striker ensued, making it clear to all and sundry how much pressure the goal lifted off his shoulders following a barren run in front of goal.

In terms of chances though, the closing stages belonged to Bilbao: Etxebarria sent a free kick millimeters wide of the target (77.), before Saborit popped up to convert a low cross into the box and salvage a draw for Athletic - 1:1 (84.). The guests nearly snatched the victory through Etxebarria deep into injury time, but the agile Knoflach capped a fine display by tipping the forward's wicked effort over the bar to safety (92.). So, with a draw against a highly rated Bilbao side Rapid exited the Europa League in respectable fashion. On Sunday the Allianz Stadium hosts Rapid's final home fixture of 2016 as SV Ried come to town in the Bundesliga.  



UEFA Europa League, 6. Matchday:
SK Rapid - Athletic Club 1:1 (0:0)
Weststadion, 21.500 Attendance, Ref Gözübüyük (NED)

Goals: 1:0 Joelinton (72.), 1:1 Saborit (84.);

SK Rapid: Knoflach - M. Hofmann, Sonnleitner, Wöber - Auer, Grahovac, Dibon (69./Schaub), Malicsek, Schrammel - Tomi (57./Kvilitaia), Jelic (57./Joelinton);

Athletic: Iraizoz - Inigo Lekue, Alvarez, Etxeita, Enric Saborit - Rico (67./Etxebarria), Vesga - Eraso (74./Susaeta), Muniain, Merino (77./Villalibre) - Williams;

Yellow Cards: Joelinton, Auer, Wöber; Etxebarria;