Hütteldorfers stroll to victory in last match
On Saturday we travelled to St. Pölten for the final fixture of the calendar year. Having endured a frustrating few weeks, a determined Rapid side took to the field in Lower Austria determined to sign off with a much needed three points. From the kick-off, the Hütteldorfers bossed the team currently propping up the Bundesliga, who, despite being the home side, elected to sit deep and soak up pressure. Oliver Lederer's side did show ambition on the counter though, as evidenced by a 14th minute attack down the wing that saw Balic get on the end of a well-weighted cross. Fortunately for Rapid, the St. Pölten man failed to get the necessary purchase on his effort, guiding a tame effort into the grateful arms of Richard Strebinger (14.). It was the first noteworthy chance of the match, with the Rapid offensive machine yet to click into gear.
But on the half-hour mark, a moment of magic from Joelinton sparked Rapid into life and put them a goal to the good: the Brazilian striker won the ball back a few yards inside his own half, and displaying fantastic control and dribbling at pace, sliced through St. Pölten, carried the ball across a whole half of the field, rounding home keeper Riegler before slotting into the empty net - 1:0 (32.)! Just 120 seconds later and the army of travelling Viennese supporters had more reason to celebrate: Philipp Schobesberger was chopped down in the St. Pölten box; Rapid skipper Schwab took the resulting penalty, and coolly slotted the ball down the middle of the goal after waiting for Riegler to move - 2:0 and the three points were within touching distance before half-time (35.).
Berisha gets off the mark
The interval did little to improve the home side's fortunes. Rapid’s most recent attacking recruit, Veton Berisha, began to move of the peripheries of the game and started becoming a central figure. Good work Sonnleitner presented a Berisha with a chance he failed to convert, but he didn't have to wait much longer to celebrate his maiden goal in Green & White: Schobesberger picked out the diminutive forward, who rounded Riegler and slotted home Rapid's third of the evening - 3:0 (54.). The next chance fell to Schobesberger, who angled his shot just wide of the post (58.), before Joelinton nearly capped off a beautiful, flowing move involving Schobesberger, Berisha and Schaub (66.).
Joelinton was certainly hungry for more goals, and the enigmatic forward thought he had doubled his tally for the afternoon in the 77th minute, only for his celebrations to be cut short by a raised offside flag. Joelinton was again at the heart of the action minutes later, when he was cut down inside the box: he took the kick himself, but Riegler produced a fine save, diving to his right to ensure his side remained three adrift. Finally Joelinton's richly deserved second of the match did arrive, as he converted Auer's cross before being substituted to a standing ovation from the away fans (85.). There was still time for the rampant Hütteldorfers to add a fifth, and they saved the best for last: a superb searching pass from Steffen Hofmann picked out Schwab, who expertly took the ball on his chest before stylishly volleying beyond Riegler to make it 5:0 (90.)!
The goal capped off a superb offering form the Green & Whites and brought 2017 to a close in style. Having been of the pace in the early part of the season, Goran Djuricin will surely feel satisfied with this emerging Rapid side’s points haul and performances. With the Green & Whites well-placed in the league, and with a cup quarter-final to come, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about what 2018 might hold in store for the Hütteldorfers.
tipico Bundesliga, 20th round:
SKN St. Pölten - SK Rapid 0:5 (0:2)
NV-Arena, 3.669 Attendance, Ref Jäger
Goals: 0:1 Joelinton (32.), 0:2 Schwab (35./Elfmeter), 0:3 Berisha (54.), 0:4 Joelinton (85.), 0:5 Schwab (90.)
St. Pölten: Riegler - Stec, Huber, Muhamedbegovic, Mehmedovic - Rasner - Balic (86. Diallo), Ambichl (59. Pak), Bajrami, Schütz - Entrup (80. Riski)
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Auer, Sonnleitner, Galvao, Bolingoli - Ljubicic, Schwab - Schaub (86. S. Hofmann), Ve. Berisha (76. Murg), Schobesberger - Joelinton (87. Kvilitaia)
Yellow Cards: Stec; Strebinger
Yellow/Red Card: Rasner (81.);