Narrow defeat in Wals-Siezenheim
Rapid against RB Salzburg, the workers' club against the nouveau riche, tradition against corporation. The stand-out fixture in the Austrian football calendar rolled round again on Sunday, as the Green & Whites travelled westwards to face the reigning champions in Wals-Siezenheim. Goran Djuricin and his side were looking to take at least a point, which would see them climb back into the Bundesliga top three and above Admira on goal difference. In and out the team recently, Mario Sonnleitner was in from the start against Salzburg, deputising once more for the injured Max Hofmann. The travelling Rapid fans would've welcomed the sight of Louis Schaub, who was fit enough to again take a place on the bench following injury lay-off.
A well drilled Rapid defence saw off early Salzburg pressure, which amounted to little more than half-chances for Dabbur and Hwang. Having weathered the early storm, Rapid came within inches of grabbing the opener: slick passing between Kvilitaia and Murg saw the latter drift in off the wing before curling a beautifully crafted left footed shot onto the foot of the far post from the edge of the area (9.). It was a fantastic effort from Murg, and one that stung the hosts into life. By way of a repost, a deep ball into the area found its way to Lainer, who lashed wide of the near post from a promising position (14.). A delightful chipped pass then found Dabbur, who had peeled off his marker and in behind the Rapid defence, only for Strebinger to stand tall and deny the Salzburg forward with a brilliant reaction save (15.)!
The game had opened up: Rapid were trying to impose a high-tempo press on Salzburg, whilst Salzburg were looking to click into gear and unleash the quick and incisive counter-attacking football with which they have become so synonymous. The Green & Whites were doing well, without creating too much by the way of clear cut openings, but on a couple of isolated occasions, Salzburg demonstrated how dangerous they could be once they had played through the press: Hwang snatched at a decent opportunity after a swift Salzburg move upfield (28.), whilst a double-chance fell the way of Minamino, who first struck a defender, before dragging the rebound wide of the far post (34.). Rapid made it to the break with the deadlock still intact; a merited and positive reward based on their first-half endeavours.
It didn't take long for Rapid to manufacture a moment of danger in the second half, as Murg again sought to combine with Kvilitaia, who, thanks to the close attentions of the Salzburg defence, was denied the opportunity of connecting with Murg's low cross into the box (50.). The action then swung to the other end, with Strebinger once more on hand to deny the hosts, as he again come out on top in a duel against Dabbur, who had again avoided the attention of the Rapid defence to burst through on goal (56.). On the hour mark Philipp Schobesberger was brought on in place of Kvilitaia, the Georgian unable to extend his recent goal scoring streak.
Then, minutes before the onset of the Rapid Viertel-Stunde, lackadaisical play from Rapid proved the catalyst for their own downfall: having done well to win possession for his side deep in his own half, Joelinton promptly turned the ball back over to Salzburg, who in the blink of an eye worked the ball to Valon Berisha, who took advantage of the space in the Rapid box to finish with aplomb from close range - 0:1 (73.). Louis Schaub was thrust into the action as Rapid desperately sought an opening, but the Hütteldorfers struggled to manufacture clear sights of goal as the clock wound down. With little over five minutes to play, the chance did arrive, but Philipp Schobesberger's shot from inside the penalty area blocked, whilst Boli Bolingoli could only drive the rebound into his own player and behind for goal kick (84.).
Richard Strebinger produced another outstanding save from Hwang deep into injury time (93.), but there was to be no late drama at the other end of the pitch meaning Rapid succumbed to a narrow defeat. Despite the loss it was an encouraging and positive performance from Rapid, who will hope similar performances in the coming weeks will yield points as the Hütteldorfers look to battle their way into the top three.
tipico Bundesliga, 25th round:
RB Salzburg - SK Rapid 1:0 (0:0)
Wals-Siezenheim, RB Arena, 11.981 Attendance, Ref Harkam
Goal: 1:0 Berisha (73.);
RB Salzburg: Walke - Lainer, Ramalho, Onguene, Ulmer - X. Schlager - Yabo (77./Haidara), Minamino (82./Samassekou), Va. Berisha - Hwang, Dabbur (85./Wolf)
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Auer, Sonnleitner, Galvao, Bolingoli - Ljubicic, Petsos - Murg, Joelinton (80./Szanto), Ve. Berisha (76./Schaub) - Kvilitaia (58./Schobesberger)
Yellow Cards: Berisha, Petsos;