Rapid draw a blank in Mattersburg
Rapid made the short trip to Burgenland on Saturday to take on SV Mattersburg safe in the knowledge that first place in the Qualification Group was already in the bag. By contrast, Mattersburg were looking for the three points to secure second place and set up another showdown with the Hütteldorfers in two weeks-time in the play-off. Didi Kühbauer reinstalled Richi Strebinger in goal, but decided against wholesale changes in an attempt to remain in a good rhythm until the end of the season. Marvin Potzmann was ruled out of a reunion with his former side due to back problems.
Within seconds of the kick-off, Rapid could - and should - have taken the lead: An early cross picked out the unmarked Knasmüllner in the Mattersburg box, whose first-time effort from 10 yards out was saved by diving SVM keeper Kuster (1.). There was also an early chance at the other end of the pitch, and Mattersburg made it count. Gruber took advantage of lax defending from Rapid, sliding a low cross in the box where it was met by Pusic, who guided the ball into the corner and beyond the helpless Strebinger - 1:0 (8.). More chances came and went for the Green and Whites, as Sonnleitner grazed the top of the bar with a header after Stefan Schwab had headed a deep cross back into the box (14.). Schwab himself went close with an arrowed shot from long range, but the skipper's drive went inches wide of the far post (20.). The last chance of the half dropped to the hosts, with Gruber hammering a low shot from the edge of the box across Stebinger but wide of the post (33.).
Dejan Ljubicic came on for Srdjan Grahovac at half time, but the Hütteldorfers continued to struggle to find the necessary quality to really threaten the Mattersburg goal. Aliou Badji registered the first shot of the second half, but his effort lacked precision and was easily gathered by Kuster (55.). Shots from Murg and Schobesberger (67.) were both dealt with, before Murg sent a decent free-kick just wide of the target (69.). Manuel Thurnwald came on for Christoph Knasmüllner as Rapid sought to inject attacking momentum from the bench. The changed failed to spark the Green & Whites though, who continued to labour in the final third.
Finally, precise and incisive football did unlock the Mattersburg defence, with the ball ending up at the feet of Murg who cut it back to Badji. Just a couple of yards from goal, Badji failed to find the finish, with home defender Mahrer coming to the rescue with a well-timed block (80.). With the chance went Rapid’s chances of salvaging a point as they failed to manufacture any further opportunities in the closing stages. The Hütteldorfers wrap up the regular season next week at home to Altach, before another meeting with Mattersburg - this time in Vienna - for the Qualification Group play-off.
tipico Bundesliga, 31st round/9th round Qualification group:
SV Mattersburg - SK Rapid 1:0 (1:0)
Pappelstadion, 4.200 Attendance, Ref Ciochirca
Goal: 1:0 Pusic (8.);
SV Mattersburg: Kuster – Höller, Mahrer, Malic, Renner – Gruber, Jano (35./Halper), Erhardt, Kuen – Pusic (82./Bürger), Kvasina (70./Ertlthaler);
SK Rapid: Strebinger – Müldür, Dibon, Sonnleitner, Bolingoli – Grahovac (46./D. Ljubicic), Schwab – Murg, Knasmüllner (74./Thurnwald), Schobesberger – Badji;
Yellow Cards: Gruber, Kuen, Höller, Malic, Mahrer;