Rapid survive penalty shoot-out in Mattersburg to advance
As expected, Rapid returned to a much more familiar line-up for the cup clash against SV Mattersburg. Just three days on from the defeat in Salzburg, several first team regulars returned after being rested for the match against the Austrian champions: Richard Strebinger, Mateo Barac, Dejan Ljubicic and Christoph Knasmüllner all returned for the second-round tie against the Burgenland outfit. And right from the off the Hütteldorfers had opportunities to make the task at hand that much easier, particularly when Alar popped up one-on-one with Mattersburg keeper in the third minute, only to have his effort saved. Just sixty-seconds later Strebinger fired a clearance against his team mate Barac, nearly conceding a bizarre goal (4.). A decent long-range shot from Alar (7.) and a dangerous ball across Rapid box from Gruber to Kvasina, which resulted in a blocked shot from close range, rounded off the early opportunities for both teams.
Leading up to the break two scenes unfolded that were key in the match. Firstly, ex-Mattersburg man Marvin Potzmann picked beautifully picked out Knasmüllner with an inch-perfect pass, who coolly slammed home a volley with the minimum of fuss to give Rapid the lead – 1:0 (38.)! But just as the Green & Whites thought they'd be going into half time deservedly ahead, SVM hit back. Stephan Auer was adjudged to have fouled his man in the area, Kvasina stepped up and gave Strebinger no chance as he swept home the resultant penalty kick - 1:1 (45.).
With renewed purpose - and Andrei Ivan - Rapid emerged for the second half. As in the first period, the Hütteldorfers, sporting their blue and red away jerseys, could have put daylight between themselves and their hosts. Dejan Ljubicic registered the first shot of the half for Rapid, forcing Kuster to dive full length and parry the ball to safety (48.). From the resulting corner, captain Stefan Schwab hit a well-struck shot goalwards, again Kuster came to his side's rescue (49.). The Mattersburg keeper was certainly earning his wages, as he was again well positioned to save a shot from Thomas Murg (52.). The pressure and chances continued, as Barac guided a header from a free-kick over Kuster’s bar from a promising position (60.). It was a depressingly familiar story for Rapid: plenty of chances created, none capitalised upon.
At the other end of the pitch, Kvasina tested Strebinger with a fierce drive (63.), as Mattersburg enjoyed their best phase of the match. With the tie edging towards extra time, Pusic failed to take advantage of an excellent shooting opportunity (82.), before Murg had a shot stopped by the in-form Kuster. Neither team managed to snatch a late goal and the game headed into an additional thirty minutes.
Fresh legs arrived for Rapid in the shape of Mert Müldur, and the defender had a chance to give his side the lead but couldn't properly direct this header (100.). Extra time proved to be a cagey affair, with both teams looking to not concede rather than to risk opening up in search of a winner. A late free-kick from Schwab didn't get beyond the Mattersburg wall (118.), but there was still time for more drama when a deflected shot from Murg was tipped by Kuster onto the crossbar! Rapid had nearly snatched it at the death, but denied by the width of the bar, the Hütteldorfers would now need to keep their nerve and in the penalty shoot-out.
Both teams scored their penalties, until Richard Stebinger became the hero, decisively keeping out Rath to see the Green & Whites through to the third round! It was nervy and not good for the heart rate, but Rapid will be in the hat when the draw is made and in the cup that's all that matters!
UNIQA ÖFB Cup, 2nd round:
SV Mattersburg - SK Rapid 4:5 after penalties (1:1)
Pappelstadion, 5500 Attendance
Goals: 0:1 Knasmüllner (38.), 1:1 Kvasina (45., Elfmeter);
SK Rapid: Strebinger; Potzmann, Barac, Sonnleitner, Auer (100. Müldür); Schwab, Ljubicic; Berisha (46. Ivan), Knasmüllner (68. Pavlovic), Murg; Alar;