23.08.2018 22:31
UEFA Europa League, Team, Play Off, FCSB, Match report

Hütteldorfers set up Bucharest platform

The first leg of the UEFA Europa League play-off soon rolled around as the fixtures continue to come thick and fast. Renamed FCSB, the club formerly known as Steaua Bucharest were in Vienna, and a nail-biting tussle between two famous old names of European football lay in store for the Hütteldorf crowd. Head coach Goran Djuricin kept faith with the side that had sparkled against Slovan Bratislava in the previous round, which meant that captain Stefan Schwab had sufficiently recovered from injury to take his place on the pitch.

And the match against the Romanians certainly bore similarities to the game versus Slovan, as just in the previous round, Rapid got off to a flyer: Thomas Murg picked out the run of Christoph Knasmüllner, who confidently rifled a low shot into the corner to give hand Rapid a crucial, nerve-settling early lead - 1:0 (4.)! After the goal confidence and belief coursed through Green & White veins, as Rapid took the game by the scruff of the neck and dictated the pace to their wobbling opponents. FCSB were harried and hurried in possession, with the Hütteldorfers' high energy pressing game proving hard to master for the Bucharest side. When in possession, Rapid looked calm and assured, their passing crisp and finely tuned. With the Romanians nonetheless looking to attack wherever possible, an attractive and open game unfolded.

It took 20 minutes for FCSB to register their first effort on goal, but Richard Strebinger was on hand to punch away Texeira's shot following a corner. It was Rapid who carried the greater menace - a fact underlined when Knasmüllner picked the ball up in midfield before feeding Deni Alar, who drew a decent save out of Bucharest keeper Balgradean (25.). It looked as though Rapid would add to their opener: a pin-point cross from Schwab was met by Alar, who got good purchase on his header but guided it just wide of the target (31.). Alar was again on hand to force Balgradean into action, this time getting on the end of a chance created by lovely passing football involving Mateo Barac, Schwab and Murg (38.). Finally, Rapid's pressure paid off: stalwart Mario Sonnleitner got above his marker to power a header into the net, despite a desperate attempted clearance off the line - 2:0 (39.)! The halftime whistle went with Rapid in full command and thoroughly deserving of their two-goal lead.


Perhaps unsurprisingly for a club the stature of FCSB, the guests came out of the dressing room determined to get back into the tie. Almost straight from the restart, Strebinger was called upon to preserve his side’s lead, when Gnohere latched onto a through ball and shot on goal (46.). Seconds later however Strebinger was powerless, as Gnohere lashed home a volley to grab an away goal and drag his side back into contention - 1:2 (47.). In a breathless, hectic start to the half, Rapid found an instant response: Balgradean's attempted punched clearance from Murg's cross only landed at the feet of Schwab, who calmly steered the ball into the net to restore Rapid’s two-goal advantage – 3:1 (48.)!  

Despite the Hütteldorfers bossing the majority of play, they were indebted to their goalie once more for a world-class stop as an initial shot and save turned into a melee that saw the guests denied three times in the blink of an eye (73.)! With tiring legs, the Rapid trainer team brought on Ivan, Kostic and Müldür to freshen things up, but the final 20 minutes proved to be a nerve shredding experience nonetheless. Veton Berisha departed early after picking up a second yellow card, leaving Rapid to play out the game a man down. Richard Strebinger again added to his blossoming reputation when in the 88th minute he produced another outstanding save to deny Roman, before the Romanians twice struck the woodwork in the closing minutes. The final whistle went and brought palpable relief to the thousands of celebrating Viennese in the stands: Rapid had won against a highly capable opponent and given themselves the best possible opportunity of progressing in Bucharest next week. RAPID!!!!



UEFA Europa League, Play Off, 1st leg:
SK Rapid - FCSB 3:1 (2:0)
Allianz Stadion, 19.300, SR Collum (SCO)

Goals: 1:0 Knasmüllner (4.), 2:0 Sonnleitner (39.), 2:1 Gnohere (47.), 3:1 Schwab (49.);

SK Rapid: Strebinger - Potzmann, Sonnleitner, Barac, Bolingoli - D. Ljubicic, Schwab - Murg (89./Müldür), Knasmüllner (86./Kostic), Berisha - Alar (68./Ivan);

FCSB: Balgradean - Benzar, Planic, Balasa, Stan - Popescu (46./Man), Pintilii - Roman (57./Rusecu), Morutan (46./Coman), Teixeira – Gnohere;

Yellow Cards: Sonnleitner; Popescu, Pintilii;

Yellow/Red Card: Berisha (83.);