Hütteldorfers grind out narrow win in Mattersburg
The last Bundesliga match day before the coming international break saw the Green & Whites travel to Burgenland to take on the Austrian top flight's less heralded other Green & Whites, SV Mattersburg. With Rapid having gone unbeaten in five, and having shown impressive form and football along the way, it would appear to the inexperienced onlooker that a win over lowly second-bottom SVM should be little more than a formality. However, a trip to the Pappel Stadium is rarely a straight forward affair for the Hütteldorfers, and so Saturday's latest instalment in the Rapid-Mattersburg saga would prove once more.
Goran Djuricin decided not to risk Philipp Schobesberger from the start; the flying forward had experienced muscle issues during the week, but was nevertheless able to act as a very dangerous option off the bench. New-boy Veton Berisha started in the left forward position, with Gio Kvilitaia up through the middle. The first shot on goal from Rapid arrived when Stephan Auer guided an effort just wide of the post after good work from Bolingoli (14.), whilst at the other end of the field Mattersburg had had a goal correctly disallowed after Bürger strayed offside in order to get on the end of a low cross.
Rapid responded and looked to increase the tempo: Thomas Murg found the impressive Bolingoli in the penalty area, with the Belgian just inches wide with his sweetly struck shot towards the corner as he burst forwards from defence (25.). Just minutes later Rapid would though take the lead, albeit in controversial circumstances: Louis Schaub cut the ball back into the SVM penalty area after another sweeping move involving the influential Bolingoli, only for Mattersburg's Jano to try and hack the ball away to safety. The defender's attempted clearance cannoned of Stefan Schwab though, apparently off his hand, and went past stranded keeper Kuster into the net - 1:0 (30.)!
Things got no less extraordinary for the 7,000-strong crowd as the half wore on. The hosts again had the ball in the net, but again the goal was disallowed - again correctly. From a deep corner the ball was headed back across goal for Mahrer to head home from close range, but the Mattersburg man's celebrations were cut short as the linesman correctly spotted another offside. The hosts would incredibly have a third goal chalked off, as this time Gruber failed to hold the line as the linesman and referee got a hat-trick of offside decisions correct (37.). With no further additions to the score line the teams went into the half time dressing rooms with Rapid a goal to the good.
Things didn't get much easier for Rapid in the second half, with the fluidity so evident in their football in previous weeks proving hard to find. But Djuricin will have been pleased with the compact and solid defensive offering from his side throughout the second period, and had they been more efficient in attack, they may have increased their advantage through one of the numerous counter chances they created. Substitute Philipp Schobesberger had a chance on the hour, but saw his low shot repelled (61.). The game began to open up, and the next chance came the way of Stephan Auer, who fired wide from the edge of the area when well positioned (70.).
More chances came and went, leaving Rapid’s 1:0 leaving the thousands of Rapid fans in attendance if the Hütteldorfers failure to put the game to bed would prove costly. But despite Schobesberger passing up another late chance to beat SVM keeper Kuster (90.), the feared sting in the tail failed to materialise and Rapid recorded a superb away win.
The win may not have been as free flowing as some of the Hütteldorfers recent victories, but Djuricin's young side has shown they have another string to their bow and that they are learning to grind out narrow wins in difficult circumstances. Indeed, this was the first clean sheet Rapid had kept on the road in the league this season. The team has now climbed to third in the league, extending their unbeaten run to six in all competitions. RAPID!!
tipico Bundesliga, 10th round:
SV Mattersburg - SK Rapid 0:1 (0:1)
Pappelstadion, 7.000 Attendance, Referee Schüttengruber
Goal: 0:1 Schwab (29.);
SV Mattersburg: Kuster - Höller, Malic, Mahrer, Rath - Sittsam (71. Prevljak), Jano, Erhardt (86. Pink) - Gruber (74. Fran), Bürger, Renner;
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Auer, M. Hofmann, Galvao, Bolingoli - Ljubicic, Schwab - Murg, Schaub (88. Sonnleitner), Ve. Berisha (77. Prosenik) - Kvilitaia (61. Schobesberger);
Yellow Cards: Erhardt, Sittsam, Malic;