Rapid edge out dogged Innsbruck
On Sunday Rapid welcomed newly promoted Wacker Innsbruck to the Allianz stadium. The Tyrolean outfit have made a welcome return to the Bundesliga after a four-year absence following their relegation in 2014. The Green & Whites were looking to build on Thursday's superb win over FCSB in the Europa League, and build momentum before what promises to be a tough assignment in Bucharest next week. Goran Djuricin had intimated that he would likely shuffle his pack with the games coming thick and fast, and he did just that, with a core of familiar first-team faces including Mario Sonnleitner, Boli Bolingoli, Dejan Ljubicic and Christoph Knasmüllner rested and on the bench. Fit again Max Hofmann happily made a return to the starting eleven, replacing Mateo Barac at centre back.
Wacker Innsbruck started with good intent and registered the first shot on goal via a decent shot from captain Freitag in the fourth minute. The visitors from Tyrol had clearly come with designs on playing their own attacking game, and just minutes later Baumgartner got on the end of a cross to test Richard Strebinger with a powerful header (8.). Having weathered an early period of pressure, Rapid began to hit their attacking stride: Innsbruck keeper Knett punched a cross-cum-shot from Marvin Potzmann over the bar (10.), before Max Hofmann managed to meet the following corner with a header but never really threatened Knett's goal (11.). The Hütteldorfers were playing some nice football in the build-up, with just the final bit of penetration lacking from an otherwise aesthetically pleasing performance.
With Rapid seeing more and more of the ball they found another gear and began to increase the tempo and create chances: Deni Alar played Veton Berisha into the box, but his well hit shot was blocked by the feet of Knett (17.). But from the following corner the Wacker keeper was beaten, as Stefan Schwab got above his marker to arrow a well-directed header into the corner - 1:0 (18.)! The goal did little to shake Innsbruck’s confidence, as they continued to come forwards and cause problems for the Rapid defence: Dedic thought he had grabbed an equaliser for the guests when he forced the ball past Strebinger, but a lunging Marvin Potzmann managed to clear off the line (24.). The best chance during the remainder of the first half fell to Andrei Ivan, but Knett did well to keep out the Romanian’s shot on the turn from the edge of the area (38.).
Both teams emerged unchanged from the dressing rooms, but it was the Rapid eleven that got off to the better start. Berisha fed Philipp Malicsek whose attempted shot was blocked (46.), before Ivan passed up a good opportunity, waiting too long to take on the shot before eventually firing into the side-netting (58.). The majority of the 17,400 strong crowd would’ve been sitting uncomfortably in their seats as Innsbruck again forayed forwards with intent: Stephan Auer did well to clear a dangerous cross (67.), before a header chance from the Tyroleans flashed just over the bar (68.). With Wacker pushing for an equaliser, Rapid grabbed a second goal to ease the pressure: A powerful strike from the hard-working Malicsek was parried by Knett, but only as far as Deni Alar, who swept the ball home to double Rapid’s advantage – 2:0 (69.)!
The Hütteldorfers had a flurry of chances to bury their opponents, but failed to take advantage: Christoph Knasmüllner pushed the ball wide of the target after being set up by Berisha's cut-back (72.); whilst Knasmüllner again should’ve profited from good work by Deni Alar, but he guided Alar's perfectly squared ball wide of the target (87.). Rapid were made to sweat in the closing stages, when Freitag pulled one back in the 89th minute to make it 1:2. But despite Wacker throwing everything forward at the death and grazing the bar with a cross, Rapid held on to claim an important three points. The win sees the Green & Whites moving in the correct direction and into the top half of the table. Worthy winners of a tough encounter, Rapid are now set up perfectly for Thursday's trip to Romania. RAPID!!
tipico Bundesliga, 5th round:
SK Rapid - Wacker Innsbruck 2:1 (1:0)
Allianz Stadion, 17.400 Attendance, Ref Schörgenhofer
Goals: 1:0 Schwab (18.), 2:0 Alar (69.), 2:1 Freitag (89.);
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Auer, Müldür, Hofmann, Potzmann (66./Bolingoli) - P. Malicsek, Schwab - Ivan (71./Knasmüllner), Murg (77./Kostic), Berisha - Alar;
Innsbruck: Knett - Schimpelsberger, Baumgartner, Maak, Vallci - Freitag, Kerschbaum - Rakowitz (71./Durums), Harrer (78./Gabriele), Dieng - Dedic (66./Eler);
Yellow Cards: Hofmann, Auer, Bolingoli; Maak, Dieng