Home defeat against St. Pölten
With virtually the same eleven that had prevailed in the cup in Mattersburg during the week, Rapid welcomed this season's surprise package to Hütteldorf. Sitting third in the table, St. Pölten have upset the odds so far in the Bundesliga, but the goal for Rapid was clear - to get three crucial points against the side currently occupying third place in the table. The Green & Whites' last home victory was becoming an uncomfortably distant memory, and it was crucial to arrest the worrying slump in home form. Mert Müldür (in place of Stehpan Auer) and Andrei Ivan (in place of Veton Berisha) were the only changes to the team that had triumphed in Burgenland, with vice-captain Christopher Dibon again back amongst the substitutes.
Rapid started brightly and were on top during the early exchanges: Müldür headed the first sniff of goal over from a corner (11.), before going one better and getting a header from a Murg corner on target and drawing a decent save from SKN keeper Riegler (20.). It took half an hour for the visitors to muster a proper attempt on goal, which they did via on off-target volley from Haas (30.). It was the Green & Whites who continued to set the tempo though, and Deni Alar missed a presentable chance when he headed a cross from Stefan Schwab on target but too centrally to trouble the grateful Riegler (32.). The Hütteldorfers tried to remain positive and on the front foot, but the longer the half went on the more difficult it became to find openings. Then, just before half time, the opening goal of the match did arrive - but at the wrong end: a one-two between Rene Gartler and Ljubicic (brother of our own Dejan) beautifully set up the ex-Rapid striker, who lashed the ball into the net from a tight angle via the underside of the crossbar - 0:1 (44.).
The second half began with Rapid again trying to muster a positive response and draw on brittle confidence. The first chance came for Andrei Ivan, but leaning back, the Romanian cleared the bar by some margin (46.). Afterwards Ivan's wayward effort it looked only a matter of time before St. Pölten would get another. Rapid’s defence worryingly melted away as striker Pak strolled through on goal, only to be denied by the feet of Richard Strebinger (50.). Haas then had another shot (54.) before Foutas, lacking composure, lifted an attempt over Strebinger's bar as the visitors began to pepper the Rapid goal. More bad news followed as Christoph Knasmülner lay motionless on the floor after a coming together with an opponent, with Andrija Pavlovic coming on in his place.
It got worse. The Green & Whites started to lose shape and discipline, throwing too many men forwards in desperate search of an equaliser and were consistently caught out on the counter. One such situation led to Andrei Ivan receiving a second booking and subsequent red, as he dragged back an opponent who was breaking through on goal. There was still over half an hour to play with ten men, and St. Pölten landed the killer blow they had been threatening: another counter effortlessly sliced through a crumbling Rapid, Mislov fed Balic with a defence splitting pass, Balic in turn beat Strebinger with a low finish - 0:2 and the game was up (64.). Rapid responded by throwing on Aleksandar Kostic in place of Deni Alar a the Hütteldorfers did create a couple of chances in the remainder of the match, as firstly Müldür nearly beat Riegler with a deflected shot (77.), before Ljubicic fired an attempt just wide of the post (82.). It stayed 0:2, and Rapid were forced to suffer a painful and bitter defeat.
tipico Bundesliga, 9th round:
SK Rapid - SKN St. Pölten 0:2 (0:1)
Allianz Stadion, 15.800 Attendance, Ref Schörgenhofer
Goals: 0:1 Gartler (44.), 0:2 Balic (64.);
SK Rapid: Strebinger – Müldür (86. Berisha), Sonnleitner, Barac, Potzmann – D. Ljubicic, Schwab – Murg, Knasmüllner (59. Pavlovic), Ivan – Alar (72. Kostic);
St. Pölten: Riegler – Ingolitsch, Meisl, Luan, Drescher, Haas – Fountas (79. Luxbacher), Mislov, R. Ljubicic (90. Hofbauer) – Pak, R. Gartler (57. Balic);
Yellow Cards: Müldür, D. Ljubicic; Drescher
Yellow/Red Card: Ivan (59.);