2:2 - honours even in Altach
Having gotten one monkey of their collective backs by finally winning in Wolfsberg in the ÖFB cup during the week, the Hütteldorfers were looking to end another hoodoo when they travelled to Vorarlberg to take on SCR Altach on Sunday. The last three visits to Austria's mountainous west have yielded a solitary point, and another win on a tricky ground would've put the Green & Whites further along the road to recovery. Rapid head coach Didi Kühbauer opted to make four changes to the side that had triumphed in the Lavanttal Arena: Veton Berisha was back in the starting line-up for the first time since the 0:1 reverse against RB Salzburg, whilst Andrei Ivan missed out through injury. Christopher Dibon was missing after picking up an injury against WAC, with Mateo Barac coming in to replace him at the heart of the Rapid defence. Marvin Potzmann was installed at right back in place of Mert Müldür, with Manuel Martic drafted into midfield at the expense of Dejan Ljubicic.
After a show of solidarity from both clubs in support of the Europe-wide movement against discrimination and homophobia, a red and blue-cladded Rapid side took to the field, with Richard Strebinger sporting an unusual attire in the form of a green training top. Andrija Pavlovic, confidence boosted after netting last time out, had the first chance of the match, but put his shot over the bar from a good position following a swift Rapid break up the pitch (4.). The Hütteldorfers were looking sharp on the break, and it was another counter attack that provided their next chance, when good play from Pavlovic set-up Berisha who tested the home keeper Kobras from an acute angle (9.). The resulting corner capped a promising opening from Rapid with the first goal of the afternoon: a perfect in-swinginger from Knasmüllner was met by Mario Sonnleitner, who powered home a header to give the Green & Whites (or red and blues) the lead - 1:0!
It was the Viennese who continued to enjoy the better of the match, and Mario Sonnleitner should've been celebrating his 26th competitive goal for the club, but the centre back, such a danger in the opponent's box, had a goal wrongly chalked off for offside (22.). Christoph Knasmüllner then missed a glorious headed chance after great build up play involving Stefan Schwab and Berisha (27.). In a disappointingly familiar turn of events though, the defensive frailties that have plagued Rapid all season were once again evident, when after good solo work from Joshua Gatt, Altach's Manfred Fischer was on hand to bury a simple chance from close range and drag the hosts back on level terms against the run of play (32.). But rather than letting heads drop, the Green & Whites battled back and restored their lead minutes before half-time: an inch-perfect ball from Christoph Knasmüllner set Thomas Murg through on goal, who stylishly finished past Kobras - 2:1 (42.)!
The second half started in breakneck fashion: after just thirty seconds Manuel Martic unleashed a rocket of a long shot that tested the Altach keeper to the full. Kobras was again called into action again just minutes later to deny Knasmüllner from close range. The early promise of the second half from a Rapid perspective was soon extinguished though, as Manfred Fischer grabbed his second of the game, lifting the ball over the diving Richard Strebinger following outstanding play in the build-up from Christian Gebauer - 2:2 (49.).
There followed a lull in proceedings as both sides sought to bring stability into the match, but it took until the 70th minute before the next goalmouth action materialised: chaos reigned in the Rapid box from a cross, where only a combination of Mario Sonnleitner and the post prevented Altach from completing the turnaround. Minutes later a superb stop from Richard Strebinger denied Fischer a hat-trick!
The game had drifted away from Rapid somewhat, and the introduction of Deni Alar with fifteen minutes to go did little to wrest back the initiative. Altach continued to look the side most likely to score, but it was the Hütteldorfers who had a last-gasp opportunity to win it: with just seconds remaining in injury time the ball dropped to Alar, who could only drive his shot straight into the chest of Kobras.
The final whistle went and Rapid had secured a hard-earned point. It was definitely a game of two halves, with the Green & Whites bossing the first period and Altach the second. Overall, the Hütteldorfers will be satisfied and happy to take a point with them on the long journey back to the capital.
tipico Bundesliga, 13th round:
SCR Altach - SK Rapid 2:2 (1:2)
Cashpoint-Arena, 5.083 Attendance, Ref Manuel Schüttengruber
Goals: 0:1 Sonnleitner (9.), 1:1 Fischer (32.), 1:2 Murg (42.), 2:2 Fischer (48.)
Altach: Kobras – Gebauer, Oum Gouet, Piesinger, Luckeneder, Schreiner (46. Karic) – Fischer, Müller – S. Nutz (87. Gubari) – Gatt (67. Dobras), Grbic
SK Rapid: Strebinger – Potzmann, Sonnleitner, Barac (61. Müldür), Bolingoli – Murg, Martic, Schwab, Berisha – Knasmüllner (80. Ljubicic), Pavlovic (73. Alar)
Yellow Card: Martic