Controversial 325th Vienna derby ends in stalemate
As in the previous season, Rapid restarted their Bundesliga campaign after the winter break with a match against city rival Austria. An impressive 25,600 fans packed into the Allianz Stadium in Hütteldorf for the 325th capital city derby and provided an opening choreography worthy of the occasion. Goran Djuricin's starting line-up offered few surprises; the anticipated absence of Louis Schaub did indeed materialise, with the forward only fit enough for a place on the bench having struggled with niggling injuries throughout the week. Veton Berisha came in for Schaub on the right of midfield, whilst Thomas Murg was deployed centrally and Philipp Schobesberger on the left.
Straight from kick-off a high tempo match began to evolve, with both sides looking to make use of the width on offer and attack down the flanks. The first chance arrived after a quarter of an hour via the head of Joelinton, who rose to nod to Boli Bolingoli's cross a a few feet over the crossbar. Five minutes later Max Hofmann got in on the action, guiding his effort just wide of the post. These two attempts would prove to be Rapid's best of the first period however, whilst at the other end of the field, keeper Richard Strebinger did well to turn a rasping shot from Pires round the post and out for a corner (24.).
The atmosphere in the stadium intensified throughout the first half, as a flurry of hard tackles raised emotions in an already simmering stadium. Unfortunately, the tension did boil over into unsavoury scenes that lead to play being suspended on two occasions. During this period, the Green & Whites had to make an enforced substitution: having been caught by a nasty challenge from Monschein, captain Stefan Schwab was forced to leave the field injured. Thanos Petsos came on in the skipper's stead, just as the Violets were taking a grip of the game: Monschein went close to converting a cross with a deft header, before Strebinger pulled off an excellent full-length save to deny Prokop (40.). A familiar face then almost proved Rapid's undoing, when a cross-cum-shot from Stefan Stangl threatened to creep inside the far post. With the Hütteldorfers now clearly second best, the 13 (!) additional minutes did little for the heart rates of the on looking Rapid fans. The half-time whistle wasn't entirely unwelcome.
The Hütteldorf crowd were understandably baying for more from the Green & Whites in the second half, with Rapid not really delivering enough given the occasion and the opposition. The players tried to respond, but soon found themselves a goal down: weak defending on the left-hand side of the penalty failed to halt the momentum of an Austria attack; the ball was slid into the six yard box, and via a fortunate deflection off Ljubicic straight into the path of Monschein, who bundled the ball home from close range to hand the visitors the lead - 0:1 (62.).
Thankfully, the raucous celebrations emanating from the away were cut short: just two minutes later Dejan Ljubicic made a dramatic impact at the other end of the pitch, stealing in unseen to slam home a header from a corner - 1:1 (64.)! Having equalised, Rapid then immediately came within a whisker of taking the lead. Joelinton rose highest to meet a cross from the right flank, guiding a precision header onto the inside of the post. Incredibly, the ball found its way straight into the grateful arms of motionless Austria goalie Pentz (66.)! Now the derby had been sliced wide open, and after Strebinger had again denied Monschein with an expert save (69.), Rapid began to turn the screw.
Louis Schaub came on for the hardworking Berisha as Djuricin's side battered away at the Austria defence: a superb, defence-splitting pass from Joelinton put Philipp Schobesberger through on goal, but Pentz pulled off a dramatic stop as Schobesberger opened his body and aimed for the far corner (74.).
The last ten minutes saw Rapid doing all they could to force a winner, but with Austria now absent as an attacking force the Green & Whites couldn’t find the late breakthrough. An entertaining, emotion-filled and turbulent afternoon came to an end, with both teams having to settle for a point. The result leaves Rapid still searching for a first home win against Austria since moving to the Allianz Stadium, and failed to fully capitalise on Sturm Graz's surprise slip-up. On Sunday we make the short trip to Südstadt to face Admira, in what will be a tough game against the side immediately below us in the table.
tipico Bundesliga, 21st round:
SK Rapid - FK Austria 1:1 (0:0)
Allianz Stadion, 25.600 Attendance, Ref Eisner
Goals: 0:1 Monschein (62.), 1:1 Ljubicic (64.);
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Auer, M. Hofmann, Galvao, Bolingoli - Ljubicic, Schwab (36./Petsos) - Ve. Berisha (71./Schaub), Murg (87./Kvilitaia), Schobesberger - Joelinton;
FK Austria: Pentz - Blauensteiner, Kadiri, Stronati, Stangl - Serbest, Holzhauser - Venuto (87./De Paula), Prokop, Pires - Monschein (90./Friesenbichler);
Yellow Cards: Galvao, Ljubicic, Joelinton; Serbest