Afternoon of frustration against Hartberg

Rapid welcomed Hartberg to Hütteldorf on Saturday for the fourth meeting between the sides this year. The Green & Whites went into the game with one eye on Wednesday’s cup final, but there were also pressing matters at hand: The three points on offer would be an important step towards securing top spot in the qualification group and a route to European football for next season. Head coach Didi Kühbauer again shuffled his pack as he had done last week against the Styrian outfit, with Marvin Potzmann and Manuel Thurnwald drafted into the side.

But it was the guests who got the rub of the green in the early stages: The first corner of the match resulted in a mis-directed header in his own box from Christoph Knasmüllner which beat Richard Strebinger at the near post to put guests the a goal up - 0:1 (4.). It got worse for Rapid when Strebinger rushed of his line to meet Hartberg's Rep, but the keeper took the man rather than the ball, conceding a penalty and collecting a yellow card. Tadic scored the resulting spot-kick twice, after being ordered to retake his first successful attempt for encroachment - 0:2 (14.). After just a quarter of an hour Rapid had a mountain to climb.

And they set about doing just that, responding quickly, albeit again in curious circumstances: A high ball into the Hartberg box was flicked on by Mert Müldür, where it deflected off Rotter onto the inside of the post and crept over the line by a matter millimetres - 1:2 (30.)! And just minutes later, Rapid were level - courtesy of another own goal: Mert Müldür was again making himself a nuisance in the opposition box - this time from a Schobesberger free kick - and under pressure from the young defender, Hartberg's Huber deflected the ball beyond keeper Swete to draw Rapid level - 2:2 (34.)! A breathless and remarkable first half finished with the scores tied at two-a-piece.

After the break Stefan Schwab came on for Manuel Martic in midfield, and the Hutteldorfers nearly stole ahead: Schobesberger found Knasmüllner in a good position, but he shot wide of the target (56.). Knasmüllner came even closer just minutes later after being picked out by Marvin Potzmann, but this time he missed by centimetres. With the Green & Whites looking more likely to forge ahead, Hartberg benefitted from a controversial decision in at the other end of the field: Light contact between Potzmann and an opposition attacker resulted in the over-eager referee awarding Hartberg their second spot-kick of the afternoon. Cancola converted, sending Strebinger the wrong way to make it 2:3 (65.). The referee again took centre stage shortly afterwards, giving Thomas Murg a yellow card for an innocuous looking foul, and then a second and subsequent red for Murg's apparent criticism of the initial decision. The numerical disadvantage was a huge setback for Rapid, who fell further behind with little over ten minutes to play: A long range shot from Sanogo took a wicked deflection off Max Hofmann, the ball beating a helpless Strebinger to hand Hartberg their fourth fortunate goal of the game – 2:4 (80.).

In the 84th minute Aliou Badji gave Rapid a lifeline, as he latched onto a through ball and hammered a shot past Swete and into the roof of the net - 3:4 (84.). The Hütteldorfers couldn't find a fourth though and went down to a frustrating and bizarre defeat. The loss was Rapid’s first in the qualification group, but now attention turns to Wednesday's mammoth cup final against Salzburg in Klagenfurt!


tipico Bundesliga, 28th round:
SK Rapid - TSV Hartberg 3:4 (2:2)
Allianz Stadion, 13.100 Attendance, Ref Jäger

Goals: 0:1 Knasmüllner (4./Own Goal), 0:2 Tadic (14./Penalty), 1:2 Rotter (29./Own Goal), 2:2 Huber (34./Own Goal), 2:3 Cancola (65./Penalty), 2:4 Sanogo (80.), 3:4 Badji (84.);

SK Rapid: Strebinger – Potzmann, Müldür, Hofmann, Bolingoli (75./Auer) – Martic (46./Schwab), D. Ljubicic – Thurnwald (61./Murg), Knasmüllner, Schobesberger – Badji;

Hartberg: Swete – Blauensteiner, Huber, Rotter, Flecker (79./Ilic) – Kainz (63./Sanogo), Heil, Cancola, Camara – Tadic (46./Rasswalder), Rep;

Yellow Cards: Strebinger, Hofmann, Potzmann, Schobesberger; Heil, Sanogo;
Yellow/Red Card: Murg (70.);

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