320th Derby: Rapid pegged back in dying seconds
This weekend the Bundesliga season restarted after winter hibernation and our first competitive game of 2017 came in the shape of the 320th Vienna derby. We made the familiar trip to Vienna's second district and the Prater stadium to take on Austria Vienna in front of 16,000 onlookers, 3000 of which were Green & White supporters. The mission was clear before kick-off: with solidarity as the motto, our side went looking for the three points.
Having been quiet on the recruitment front during the January transfer window, Coach Damir Canadi had plenty of injury headaches and enforced changes to contend with in naming his first line up of the new year. A couple of days before the game goalkeeper Richard Strebinger added his name to the list of those unavailable, in his place between the posts came the 23 year-old Tobias Knoflach for his fifth competitive appearance. Young academy prospect Christoph Haas took his place on the bench as reserve keeper. There was better news for Christoph Schösswendter who recovered to from injury to be involved in the match day squad, whilst captain Stefan Schwab was restored to the starting line-up. There was also a surprising starting berth for Andi Kuen; the long time Rapid servant finally putting his injuries behind him to make his full debut.
From the off Rapid looked to get on the front foot and press the deep lying Austria players in possession. It was through the Hütteldorfers' high intensity football that the first chances presented themselves: Louis Schaub got his angles wrong with an attempted effort after having earned a shooting opportunity after good work from Giorgi Kvilitaia (5.). Not long after poor goalkeeping from Violet goalie Hadzikic presented Christopher Dibon with an opportunity, but the Rapid defender lifted his attempt over the crossbar (17.). At the other end of the pitch Filipovic put a header just wide of the target from a Holzhauser free kick (19.), minutes before Mario Sonnleitner just failed to apply the finishing touch to an inviting cross. The last chance of the half fell to Austria when Larsen fed the ball into the penalty area for Kayode, whose shot from a promising position was too weak to trouble Knoflach (40.). The half time whistle went with the deadlock still intact.
Neither manager opted to make changes at half time and the Green & Whites started the second half again with the intensity of team who know how crucial the three points would be as they looked to cut into our city rivals 10-point advantage in the table. Ten minutes after the break the all-important break through arrived: after gathering in a cross from Andi Kuen, Gio Kvilitaia spun in the penalty area and slammed the ball home - 1:0 (55.)!
With the wind firmly in their sails, Rapid pushed forwards in search of a second goal. Intricate passing football in the Austria penalty went unrewarded as Joelinton's effort was blocked (64.). It would unfortunately be the Brazilian’s final contribution to the game before exiting early after picking up a second yellow card for persistent fouling. Now facing numerical disadvantage, the Hütteldorfers understandably began dropping slightly deeper to try and protect their lead.
With time ticking away Rapid remained resolute, giving up very few sights of goal as an increasingly desperate Austria Vienna struggled to find a route towards Knoflach. But with just seconds remaining and deep into the fifth minute of injury time disaster struck: following a cross Rotpuller found himself in a worrying amount of space and converted a simple chance to snatch away Rapid’s victory right at the death - 1:1 (94.).
It was a bitter end to a match that had looked like yielding an all important victory that would have provided a major boost. The boys will now look to pick themselves up ahead of the visit of Admira to the Allianz Stadium in next week's game.
tipico Bundesliga, 21st round:
FK Austria - SK Rapid 1:1 (0:0)
Ernst-Happel-Stadion, 15.577 Attendance, Ref Schüttengruber
Goals: 0:1 (55.) Kvilitaia, 1:1 (94.) Rotpuller;
FK Austria: Hadzikic - Larsen, Rotpuller, Filipovic, Martschinko - Serbest, Holzhauser (76. Prokop) - Venuto (68. Tajouri), A. Grünwald, Pires - Kayode (82. Friesenbichler);
SK Rapid: Knoflach - Auer (91./Schößwendter), Sonnleitner, Dibon - Pavelic, Grahovac, Schwab, Joelinton, Kuen - Schaub (63./Murg), Kvilitaia (70./Okungbowa);
Yellow/Red Card: Joelinton (66.);