The wait for an away win goes on
The team that took to the field on Sunday bore several changes to the one that defeated LASK in the cup semi-final midweek: Philipp Malicsek, Manuel Thurnwald, Stephan Auer and Joelinton were drafted back into the team for the short trip southwards; whilst with Richard Strebinger suffering from illness Jan Novota earned a rare place on the substitutes' bench. Alongside Novota were Steffen Hofmann and Thomas Murg, whilst Mario Pavelic was rested after "the strain put on him in recent matches" with trainer Goran Djuricin deciding not to risk the ever-improving right back.
Rotation or not, it was clear that Rapid needed to claim a maximum point haul on a difficult ground to earn themselves some breathing space in mid-table. The Hütteldorfers were looking to build momentum after Wednesday's victory and finally win on the road for the first time since the end of October 2016, when they were victorious in the South City. On that day goals from Tamas Szanto and Thomas Murg secured the victory; the legions of travelling Rapid fans were hoping to see something similar this time around.
Birthday boy Arnor Traustason (turned 24 on Sunday) registered the first shot on target, sending a long-range effort over the crossbar (1.). But any signs of early promise quickly faded as the hosts turned their first meaningful attack into the opening goal: lackadaisical defending in Rapid's defensive third was punished as Monschein won the ball before laying off to Sax, who slotted home to give Admira the lead (4.). Rapid almost found an instant response as Stefan Schwab combined with Auer, who crossed the ball low to Joelinton but the Brazilian forward was unable to capitalise on the opportunity (9.). It was again Joelinton who got on the end of the next chance, sending a header from a Thurnwald cross back in the direction from it had come, wrong footing keeper Leitner, only for an Admira defender to scramble the ball off the line (14.).
Following a lull in action it was the side from the South City that were again looking likely to add to the scoring when Sax's deflected header creeped inches past the post (29.). Despite struggling to create much in an attacking sense, the young Rapid side was competing and attempting to force their way back into the game. Then, a moment a magic from Szanto did just that: the enigmatic forward got the ball under control on the edge of the area before bending an immaculate curled effort into the far corner - 1:1 (35.)! Things got even better for the Green & Whites in the run up to half time when excellent pressing by Joelinton forced Wostry into a misplaced pass, with the Brazilian latching onto the mistake before stroking the ball into the corner of the net - 2:1 Rapid and the game was turned on its head in the space of a few minutes (41.)! There was still time for some late first half drama though, as firstly Tobias Knoflach pulled off a superb stop to deny Knasmüller; whilst at the other end Traustason was guilty of passing up a golden headed chance to put daylight between Rapid and their opponents (44., 45.).
After the break-neck pace of the first half, the second period unsurprisingly failed to match the first forty-five minutes in terms of tempo and chances. Speculative attempts from Schwab and Szanto was all the Green & Whites had to offer until the hour mark, when Rapid could - and should - have put the game to bed: a swift counter attack saw Rapid quickly sweep up field, with Schwab expertly playing in Malicsek, who missed the target by a margin (63.). As is so often the case - particularly this season - Rapid's profligacy in front of goal was instantly punished, albeit harshly: an innocuous looking coming together between Auer and Zwierschitz surprisingly prompted the referee to point to the spot and award Admira a penalty. Knasmüller converted with a minimum of fuss to bring his side back into a game that had looked to be drifting away from them (67.). A triple substitution that brought Thomas Murg, Steffen Hofmann and Gio Kvilitaia on to the pitch was the Rapid bench's answer to shifting momentum, as the Hütteldorfers looked to re-assert themselves following this latest set-back.
As the game reached the ninety-minute mark it looked as though Rapid had secured a well-earned point in a match they had shaded in terms of chances and performance. However, in the dying embers of the game Monschein played a one-two with Maier, the striker carrying the ball into the Rapid area before lashing the ball with the outside of his foot into the net to complete a smash and grab win for Admira - 2:3 (90.). There was no time left for Rapid to muster a response and the Green & Whites were condemned to yet another disappointing defeat. Next Saturday we welcome WAC to the capital; three points will certainly be required to ease fears sliding further into danger at the foot of the table.
tipico Bundesliga, 31st round:
Admira Wacker - SK Rapid 3:2 (1:2)
BSFZ-Arena, 5.300 Attendance, Ref Schörgenhofer
Goals: 1:0 Sax (4.), 1:1 Szanto (35.), 1:2 Joelinton (41.), 2:2 Knasmüllner (67.Elfmeter), 3:2 Monschein (90.);
Admira Wacker: Leitner - Zwierschitz, Wostry, Maranda, Ebner (88./Posch) - Lackner, Bajrami (79./Maier) - Sax, Knasmüllner, Grozurek (46./Toth) - Monschein;
SK Rapid: Knoflach - Auer, Dibon, Wöber, Kuen (55./Murg) - Schwab - Thurnwald, Szanto, P. Malicsek, Traustason (73./S. Hofmann) - Joelinton (64./Kvilitaia);
Yellow Card: Sax;