Badji fires Rapid to victory over Innsbruck
Rapid welcomed Tyrolean strugglers Wacker Innsbruck to Vienna on Saturday, with the Hütteldorfers seeking to tighten their grip on top spot in the play-off group. There was a surprise place in the starting line-up for reserve goalkeeper Tobias Knoflach, who made his first league appearance of the season.
Despite Wacker's recent upturn in form with two wins on the bounce, it was Rapid who set the early tone.
A shot from Aliou Badji was blocked by the visitor's scrambling defence (9.), before Srdjan Grahovac went close with a free-kick (11.). Rapid continued to apply the pressure as Thomas Murg threatened, his shot blocked at close range by more desperate defending, albeit with the hint of a hand from a Wacker defender (14.). The most presentable chance of the half fell to captain Stefan Schwab, but the Rapid skipper strangled his attempted shot after being picked out by a Boli Bolingoli cross (22.). The deep-sitting Innsbruck defence managed to repel further waves of Rapid attacks and make it through to half-time with the deadlock intact.
The second period continued with the Green & Whites probing, looking for a way through: Badji forced Wacker keeper Knett into a good low save from close range (47.), before a deflected cross from Schobesberger thumped against the foot off the post, the rebound falling kindly for an Innsbruck defender to clear (50.). Schobesberger was again at the heart of the action minutes later, stabbing goalwards after a scramble in the penalty area only to again be denied by Knett (54.). Out of the blue the visitors threatened, as Knoflach produced a superb flying save to tip a free-kick from Maranda over the crossbar (56.).
With frustration growing, Didi Kühbauer turned to his bench to find the breakthrough, sending on Christoph Knasmüllner. Having pounded on the Wacker door for over an hour, Rapid finally made the pressure tell: the advanced Bolingoli crossed low into the box, the ball spooning up off a defender and into the path of the grateful Badji, who slammed his shot into the roof of the net from close range - 1:0 (64.)! Desperate for points to try and stave off the threat of relegation, Wacker came out of their shell and went close to finding an equaliser when a slight intervention from Christopher Dibon saw a shot from Taferner slide inches wide of the target. Rapid had chances to extend their lead but in the end it was Badji's strike that made the difference and sealed the three points. It was a calm, measured performance and a fully deserved win for the Hütteldorfers. RAPID!!
tipico Bundesliga, 30th round/8th round Qualifying group:
SK Rapid - Wacker Innsbruck 1:0 (0:0)
Goal: 1:0 Badji (64.);
SK Rapid: Knoflach – Auer (67./Müldür), Dibon, Hofmann, Bolingoli – Grahovac, D. Ljubicic (62./Knasmüllner) – Murg, Schwab, Schobesberger – Badji (81./Pavlovic);
Wacker Innsbruck: Knett – Hupfauf, Maak, Maranda, Klem – Henning (70./Satin), Kerschbaum – Dieng (74./Gründler), Taferner (86./Rakowitz), Horvath – Dedic;
Yellow Cards: Kerschbaum, Hupfauf;