Bitter pill: 0:2 vs. Austria
After Rapid's long wait for three points came to an end last time out against Altach, the 321st Vienna derby rolled round with the Hütteldorfers feeling their way tentatively back towards something resembling confidence. With 26,000 fans packed into a sold-out Allianz Stadium a hostile reception was in store for our cross city rivals as the Block West again underlined their credentials as one of Europe's most renowned fan blocks with a soaring choreography befitting of such a stage. In terms of the starting line-up, experienced centre back Mario Sonnleitner recovered sufficiently to reclaim a starting berth, with youngster Max Wöber moving to the bench having been suffering from illness in the build-up to the match. With Louis Schaub and Arnor Traustason still not quite available for selection, the Rapid line-up retained the essence of the side that had overcome Altach last weekend.
The game itself didn’t replicate the spectacle of the terraces on the pitch: chances were few and far between, with hard tackling and midfield struggle characterising the opening stages. When half-chances did materialise then it was often the guests from Favoriten creating them: Holzhauser played a searching ball into the middle of the Rapid penalty area, but Venuto failed to bring the pass under control (11.). However, just ten minutes later Austria did find their cutting edge: Kayode burst through the Hütteldorfer rear-guard before squaring to Venuto, this time the Brazilian made no mistake, slotting past Tobias Knoflach to give the Violets the lead - 0:1 (23.). The goal scorer then departed proceedings early owing to injury, but his remaining team-mates continued to look the most likely to add to the scoring. The best Rapi could muster were two Tamas Szanto shots that never really looked like troubling the Austria keeper, and, on the stroke of half-time, a wayward Mario Pavelic cross required Osman Hadzikic to tip the ball over the crossbar (44.). Fresh attacking impetus would be required in the second half f the Green & Whites were to salvage the derby.
Just ten minutes after the restart Rapid's task became doubly difficult: caught too far up the pitch, Holzhauser tore the Hütteldorfer defence to shreds with a pass that split the back-four, playing Pires in on Tobias Knoflach. A composed low finish from the Austria man gave the Rapid keeper no chance, with the simplicity of the goal surely a cause for concern for Rapid's new management duo (56.). Knoflach did well just a few minutes later though, producing a smart stop to keep out a good effort from Kayode as the game threatened to run away from Rapid (60.).
But rather than go under the Green & Whites managed to find some fight befitting of a derby. A shot from substitute Wöber narrowly missed the top corner (62.), before Szanto drew a good save from Hadzikic (65.). Christopher Dibon went close with a header from a corner (71.), before Stephen Auer passed up a great opportunity from a promising shooting position (79.). With ten minutes to go and with Rapid pressing hard to get back into the match, Kayode could and perhaps should have wrapped things up for the visitors with a killer third goal, but the danger of being hit on the counter loomed large (80.). To their immense credit, Rapid kept battling and fighting to the last minute and had Thomas Murg's free-kick not have smacked into the frame of the goal and gone out to safety then the Hütteldorfers might have been able to set up the grandstand finish their battling qualities would have merited (89.). Tamas Szanto also came close to grabbing what would've been a late consolation, but even that crumb of comfort was denied as after rounding the Austria keeper he couldn't quite turn the ball home from an acute angle.
Watching Austria celebrate a second win on the trot on Green & White turf was a bitter pill for all present to have to swallow. Nevertheless the chance of silverware and cup glory remains within touching distance: on Wednesday LASK come to the capital to contest the ÖFB Cup Semi-Final.
tipico Bundesliga, 30th round:
SK Rapid - FK Austria 0:2 (0:1)
Allianz Stadium, 26.000 Attencance, Ref Grobelnik
Goals: 0:1 Venuto (22.), 0:2 Pires (56.);
SK Rapid: Knoflach - Pavelic, Sonnleitner (54./Wöber), Dibon, Schrammel - Auer, Schwab (72./P. Malicsek) - Murg, S. Hofmann, Szanto - Joelinton (62./Kvilitaia);
FK Austria: Hadzikic - Larsen, Rotpuller, Filipovic, Martschinko - Serbest, Holzhauser - Venuto (26./Tajouri), Grünwald, Pires (92./Kvasina) - Kayode (82./Friesenbichler);
Yellow Card: Schrammel;