Rapid book place in UNIQA Cup second round
After weeks of intensive training and fitness work, competitive football was back on the agenda on Friday evening. The first round of the UNIQA ÖFB Cup saw us paired with Tyrolean regional side FC Kufstein, with the team bus heading off after lunch on Thursday in direction Austria's mountainous west. First choice keeper Richard Strebinger wasn't one of those on the bus; as is often the case in the cup, our number 1 made way for Tobias Knoflach to gain some valuable minutes on the pitch. Thomas Murg was also absent having picked up a minor knock, whilst Christopher Dibon wasn't quite ready to be thrust back into action following his lay-off. Six new faces did undertake the journey, one of whom was new Austrian citizen Aleksander Kostic, who recently gave up his Serbian citizenship.
And so to the action on the pitch: Goran Djuricin picked five new recruits in his first starting eleven of the season, including the returning Deni Alar. And Djuricin will have been delighted as two of his new signings combined to open the scoring: Christoph Knasmüllner split the Kufstein defence, picking out Andrei Ivan with a superbly weighted pass, the Romanian did the rest, opening his body to slide the ball expertly past Kufstein keeper Tauber before celebrating with an equally impressive backflip - 1:0 (4.). It didn’t take long for the second to arrive, as Deni Alar fed the ball to Veton Berisha, who struck a low shot between the goalie's legs to double the Hütteldorfers' advantage - 2:0 (18.). Having set one up, Alar then get on the scoresheet himself, beating Tauber with a clinical finish to put the Green & Whites out of sight - 3:0 (34.)! Rapid did have a slice of luck on the stroke of half time when Yildiz hit the outside of Knoflach’s post (44.), but to all intents and purposes the game had long been over as a contest.
Hosts Kufstein, who on Thursday had a offered a warm and friendly reception to the Rapid travelling party, almost gave their fans something to cheer, but Knoflach did well to save an effort from a direct free kick at the start of the second period (48.). But Rapid quickly reasserted their first half dominance, and soon converted another chance to move further ahead of their plucky hosts: Captain Stefan Schwab picked out Alar, who fired an angled shot low across Tauber into the far corner - 4:0 (57.). Minutes later, Alar again turned provider, beating his man with a cute drop of the shoulder before squaring to the unmarked Ivan to tap home into an empty net from close range, and bag his second of the game in the process – 5:0 (61.)!
Chances came and went in the final half an hour, as Rapid continued to create openings: Berisha (68., 88.) and Kostic (72.), both passed up good opportunities to add a sixth; whilst Andrei Ivan was denied a hat-trick by the woodwork. Nonetheless, the match was a good work-out for Rapid, and safe passage into the next round of the cup had been convincingly secured. Now attention turns to Sunday, and Steffen Hofmann’s farewell party! RAPID!!
Head Coach Goran Djuricin: "It was a thoroughly deserved victory and score-line. The five goals needed scoring, and we’re extremely satisfied with our offering in the first round of the cup. The new signings got involved well. Now we’re looking forward to Steffen’s farewell game, before we start our league campaign with a game against Admira, a real test against much more evenly matched opponent."
UNIQA ÖFB Cup, 1st round:
FC Kufstein - SK Rapid 0:5 (0:3)
Kufstein, 2000 Attendance (sold out)
Friday, 20th of July 2018
Goals: 0:1 Ivan (4.), 0:2 Berisha (18.), 0:3 Alar (34.), 0:4 Alar (57.), 0:5 Ivan (61.);
SK Rapid: Knoflach; Potzmann, M. Hofmann (73. Sonnleitner), Barac, Auer (70. Bolingoli); Martic, Schwab; Berisha, Knasmüllner, Ivan; Alar (63. Kostic);