Last-gasp LASK beat Rapid in bruising encounter
After two wins on the bounce, home hopes were high ahead of a tough-looking tie against LASK on match day 5. Unsettling transfer rumours from midweek were dispelled before kick off by jubilant Rapid supporters, with thousands celebrating 15 years of the Lions fan-group, and in doing so, providing a stunning backdrop to the occasion in Hütteldorf.
Didi Kühbauer had to make a few changes from the away win against SK Sturm last weekend though, with Srdjan Grahovac missing out due to a muscle tear sustained in that game, and Mert Müldür having since departed for Italy. Dejan Ljubicic was handed a first start since returning from injury, and Aliou Badji also came in to make up a reshuffled 4-4-2 for the home side. Unsurprisingly, much media attention was focused on the possible friction between the two sides, and not only was Max Ullmann facing his former club wearing Green and White for the first time, but LASK handed a debut to Marvin Potzmann, who signed from Rapid just days ago.
The game got underway in a thunderous fashion, with Rapid on top in the opening exchanges. Christopher Dibon and Thorsten Schick both saw early shots miss the target, before Ullmann was flattened by former teammate Ranftl in an aerial dual. It was certainly a sign of things to come, in what would ultimately go on to be the bad-tempered game that some had expected. Potzmann was the man to give the Upper Austrians their first sight at goal, with his cross finding Raguz for one of two chances in quick succession. His first header had Richard Strebinger scrambling as it went past the post (11.), and his second required a quick reaction stop from our number 1 to keep the scores at 0-0 (13.).
As the game was beginning to settle again, Rapid (just as they had been on match day 4) were forced into an early switch, with the unfortunate Schick needing a stretcher to leave the field after landing awkwardly and jarring his left knee (16.). Auer came on to replace him at right back, and within minutes, Strebinger was the next Rapid player to be stricken on the ground. After a once-over, the home keeper played on long enough to see Potzmann deliver another cross from the left, but this time Raguz made no mistake as he buried the header from close range to give LASK the lead (23.). Worryingly, Strebinger couldn't carry on much further, and he left the field with a suspected circulation issue to join Schick in the hospital (30.), with Tobias Knoflach taking his place between the posts.
After so many stoppages and some concerning injuries, coach Kühbauer's game plan had lost its rhythm somewhat, so it wasn't until close to half time that Taxi Fountas was able to make room for a Rapid breakaway which culminated in a rasping shot that curled just over the LASK crossbar from the edge of the area (43.).
The fact that 7 minutes of stoppage time were required rather summed up the first half, but it was the beginning of the second half where things began to look brighter for the orange-clad home supporters. This time it was Max Ullmann's turn to be a thorn in the side of his old club, as he played a neat one-two with Badji, and unleashed a perfect cross from the left into the LASK danger area. The ball evaded the LASK back line, leaving the goal exposed for Philipp Schobesberger to side-foot home the equaliser, after his clever run gave him some space at the back post (47.).
Ullmann troubled the visiting keeper with a difficult low cross a little later, and Schlager again had to be alert to beat Thomas Murg in the chase for a through ball as Rapid grew further into the game just after the hour mark. But once more, injuries and stoppages began to affect the flow of the football, and Badji was the next player to be withdrawn with a knock (75.).
On the up side, that meant that our new number 32 Koya Kitagawa could be given his long awaited debut in Rapid colours. With raucous cheers from most of the 19,400 supporters in the stadium, the young Japanese striker led the way forward immediately, and just as he searched for some space in the area, a half-cleared cross found its way to Ljubicic, whose powerful drive from outside the area forced a good block from a LASK leg (76.).
As the visitors began to find their attacking feet again, there was yet another injury setback to come for the embattled home side. This time it was Maxi Hoffmann who was forced to leave the field after a blow to the face (83.), however with all three substitutes used up, there was no choice but for Rapid to fight on with 10 men.
As the final few minutes came around we might have been happy to hang on for a point given the nature of the situation, with LASK and their extra man beginning to lay siege to the Rapid goal. Renner nodded over, Tetteh had a shot blocked and Trauner tested Knoflach with a looping header as the 6 added minutes ebbed away, but deep into injury time, a corner was the curse once again, with Holland's flick-on header finding Raguz at the back post to tap in for 2-1 (95.) and inflict the final wound of the day.
How cruel football can feel sometimes, but with the next game being away at FK Austria (1st September, kick off 17:00), we’ll need our fans to find their voices again as always, and help carry us towards our next three points in the derby!
tipico Bundesliga, 5. Runde
SK Rapid - LASK 1:2 (0:1)
Allianz Stadion, 19.400 Attendance, Ref Ciochirca
Goals: 0:1 Raguz (23.), 1:1 Schobesberger (47.), 1:2 Raguz (95.);
SK Rapid: Strebinger (28. Knoflach) – Schick (17. Auer), Dibon, Hofmann, Ullmann – Schwab (K), Ljubicic - Murg, Fountas, Schobesberger - Badji (75. Kitagawa);
LASK: Schlager - Wostry, Trauner, Wiesinger (63. Pogatetz) - Potzmann (46. Renner), Michorl, Holland, Ranftl - Frieser, Raguz, Goiginger (56. Tetteh);
Yellow Cards: Fountas, Dibon; Wostry