Late drama not enough to secure a point in Salzburg
Anyone reading between the lines during the build-up to Rapid's trip to Salzburg on Sunday would've had a fair idea that there would be changes to the side that dispatched Spartak Moscow on Thursday night. Goran Djuricin and his team opted for rotation owing to the heavy workload and the effects of playing another three games in a week. Tobias Knoflach made his first league appearance, coming in in place of Richard Strebinger, whilst in defence Stefan Auer and Max Hofmann came in alongside Sonnleitner and Müldür. Manuel Martic replaced Ljubicic in midfield, with Ljubicic taking a place on the bench alongside Christoph Knasmüllner as Philipp Malicsek was handed a start. Flanking Malicsek were Veton Bershia and Jeremy Guillemenot with Andrija Pavlovic starting as lone striker. There were certainly one or two surprises in the line-up, but would they also surprise and disrupt Salzburg?
Rather than sit in and invite Red Bull onto them, Rapid looked to impose themselves on the game and play their attacking football. Stefan Schwab looked to slip Guillemenot in on goal, but Salzburg goalie Stankovic just beat the Rapid man to the ball (5.). The Hütteldorfers came close to opening up their opponents on several occasions, whilst at the back they looked compact and composed. On the occasions Salzburg did get through on goal, Knoflach was showing himself to be an able deputy for Strebinger: The Rapid gloveman saved from Ulmer (21.), before tipping a header from Pongracic over the bar (27.). Salzburg hitman Dabbur also fashioned a shooting opportunity, drawing an excellent save from the diving keeper (28.). Having stood firm during the opening phase, Rapid were now starting to come under pressure and Salzburg capitalised: stand-offish defending afforded too much room in the box, Minamino accepted the invitation to shoot, slamming the ball low and hard into the corner - 1:0 (36.). The hosts looked for a second before half time, but again Knoflach showed his class, this time repelling an attempt from Haidara (42.). The first half closed with Rapid having given a decent account of themselves but creating too little in the attacking third.
The bench reacted and on came Thomas Murg and Andrei Ivan as Rapid looked to inject some extra attacking thrust into their performance. And the first chance of the half fell to the newly introduced Ivan, who received the ball in a good position on the edge of the box, but his shot was charged down and blocked away to safety (47.). The Green & Whites were much improved in the opening throes of the second period and nearly equalised through Pavlovic, whose shot cannoned of the post (57.)! But the reigning champions looked capable of causing more problems, and again tested Knoflach through Dabbur - twice in quick succession - but once more Knoflach was up to the task and kept his side within touching distance (61.). Goran Djuricin played made his final move, sending on Deni alar in place of the unfortunate Pavlovic.
With Rapid looking to push forwards, it was the work of the inspired Knoflach that kept them in the hunt for a point, as he puuled off a further fine save from Minamino (75.). But just a minute later the Rapid goalie was powerless as a breakdown in possession saw Wolf feed the ball to Dabbur for a simple tap in from close range - 2:0 (81.). With the clock winding down Rapid made it interesting: Thomas Murg whipped a free kick into the box and onto the head of Max Hofmann, who guided the ball beyond Stankovic to pull one back - 1:2 (89.)! Suddenly the Hütteldorfers were in business and almost snatched the equaliser: Alar thought he’d scored on the turn but Stankovic pulled off a superb save to keep him out (90.), then Alar did have the ball in the back of the net from a corner, only to be denied by the referee’s whistle and an adjudged foul in the build-up. Salzburg survived the late Rapid onslaught, consigning the Green & Whites to a narrow 1:2 defeat.
tipico Bundesliga, 8th round:
RB Salzburg - SK Rapid 2:1 (1:0)
RB Arena, 15.973 Attendance, Ref Harkam
Goals: 1:0 (36.) Minamino 2:0 (77.) Dabbur 2:1 (89.) Hofmann;
RB Salzburg: Stankovic – Lainer, Ramalho, Pongracic, Ulmer – Samassekou – Haidara (84. Mwepu), Junuzovic, Minamino – Gulbrandsen (64. Wolf), Dabbur;
SK Rapid: Knoflach – Müldür, Sonnleitner, Hofmann, Auer – Martic, Schwab – Guillemenot (46. Ivan), P. Malicsek (46. Murg), Berisha – Pavlovic (68. Alar);