Battling home victory: 1:0 win over Mattersburg
New Head Coach Didi Kühbauer's second game in charge came in the shape of a home fixture against SV Mattersburg in the Bundesliga. Just three days after the energy-sapping defeat in Glasgow, Kühbauer and Rapid were looking for home comforts against near neighbours SVM. A repeat of the battling spirit on display in Scotland would be a welcome sight for Rapid fans, as would an upturn in desperate recent form which has seen their side winless in four and lose the last three in a row. Christopher Dibon and Boli Bolingoli built on their midweek comebacks to retain their places in the starting formation, inured pair Barac and Berisha were unavailable for selection, with the suspended Andrei Ivan also missing out.
Rapid started on the front foot, and with high energy pressing and a desire to get forwards, the Hütteldorfers snatched the attacking initiative and dictated the tempo. When SVM did come forwards, Mario Sonnleitner was expertly marshalling the Rapid defence, ably supported by Dibon and Bolingoli. Didi Kühbauer had demanded quicker reactions and more alertness around the team, and the players were responding to their new coach's demands. The Green & Whites looked like they were carrying a cutting edge, and so it proved: a sweet piece of skill from Knasmüllner saw him cheekily outfox his marker, before lashing the ball off the inside of the post and into the net - 1:0 (11.)! In contrast to last week's cup tie, a solid Rapid side looked in complete control against an opponent struggling to establish a foothold from which to build and threaten. Andrija Pavlovic fired Rapid's next attempt over the bar (30.), before Stefan Schwab's shot was deflected wide (34.).
A free-kick from Gruber was easily dealt with by Richard Strebinger in Mattersburg's only real shot of the half (39.), but at the other end of the pitch, Rapid nearly forged further ahead but Deni Alar headed a superb cross from Schwab wide of the target (40.). With a richly-deserved 1:0 lead the Green & Whites headed into the half time changing rooms.
Just seconds after the restart, Mattersburg almost pulled level out of the blue, as Strebinger tipped a wicked shot from distance by Jano over the bar (47.). The chance for the guests did little to alter the direction of the game at the beginning of the half though, as Rapid immediately re-imposed themselves on the matched. Chances to put daylight between themselves and the opposition came and went for Rapid: Alar had a great chance to make it two but lifted his shot over the bar after Knasmüllner and Murg had combined to create the chance (52.). But as the game wore on Mattersburg began to find their way back into it, and Gruber drew and excellent save out of Strebinger on the hour mark (61.). The guests were enjoying their best spell of the game, but the mini-storm was well weathered by Rapid who continued to create chances: Alar had another great opportunity from close range blocked (70.), before he shot wide of the far post (80.).
The final action of the game came in the dying embers, when SVM keeper Kuster tipped a Schwab free-kick round the post (88.), whilst Sonnleitner headed inches over after failing to connect properly with a header from a promising position (90.). The whistle went and Rapid recorded a 1:0 win on Kühbauer's debut - a great afternoon’s work that could have yielded more than just the one goal, but one was enough to secure a welcome three points! RAPID!!
tipico Bundesliga, 10th round:
SK Rapid - SV Mattersburg 1:0 (1:0)
Allianz Stadion, 18.200 Attendance, Ref Hameter
Goal: 1:0 Knasmüllner (11.);
SK Rapid: Strebinger – Potzmann (63./Müldür), Sonnleitner, Dibon, Bolingoli (88./Auer) – Murg, D. Ljubicic, Schwab, Knasmüllner (75./Martic) – Pavlovic, Alar;
Mattersburg: Kuster – Kerschbaumer (67./Höller), Mahrer, Malic, Ortiz, Renner – Erhardt, Jano, Hart (82./Ertlthaler) – Pusic (76./Prosenik), Gruber;
Yellow Card: Bolingoli;