Schwab secures a point in six-goal thriller with Hartberg
After the bitter cup defeat in midweek against Salzburg, all the talk was about whether Rapid could carry the momentum of a good run, and a brave performance, with them into the Bundesliga for the rest of the year. Matchday 9 saw Hartberg heading to the Allianz Stadium, a fixture which has tended to be packed with drama (2:2, 3:4) but was yet to yield a home victory (aside from a 5:2 win in last season's Cup). After three wins on the bounce, Rapid were looking to continue their climb up the table by taking three points against the Styrian side.
The changes in the starting line-up almost took care of themselves for Sunday's game. With Koya Kitagawa out injured, Aliou Badji returned up-front, Thomas Murg was not yet match fit after a recent injury so Christoph Knasmüllner came in, and Mario Sonnleitner was also yet to reach match-readiness in defence, Dibon and Barac again starting as the centre-back pairing. The team started well in any case, Taxi Fountas registering an early shot on target (6.), as well as Badji, who took advantage of a mix up between Hartberg keeper Swete and Rapid-loanee Obermüller to pinch the ball in the penalty area (10.), but couldn’t quite open the scoring. Max Ullmann also had a shot blocked (12.) and Knasmüllner headed past the far post (14.) as the home side asserted early dominance.
And so it continued; from a Stephan Auer throw in deep in Hartberg territory, Knasmüllner chested the ball down well and fed Taxi Fountas, who burst into the area and fired home across keeper Swete for 1-0 (18.)! Badji had the next opportunity, but his header from Ullmann’s cross was well saved, and so the lead couldn’t be extended (22.). The game remained very much open, and Richi Strebinger showed off his talents by reacting well to Hartberg's first chances; throwing himself at the feet of Gotal who was through on goal (28.) and saving a shot from Rep (32.). Back up the other end, Fountas couldn't quite get a connection on a shot (34.) and Badji fired across the face of goal and only narrowly wide (38.). Just when half time appeared close, Hartberg came back. Dossou received a long ball with space on the left, and was able to cut inside and aim for the near post, beating Strebinger and leaving things level at the break (45.).
After feeling in control in the first half, 1:1 was hard to take, but Hartberg kept on creating danger in the second period, Tadic testing Strebinger with an early header (48.). Dejan Ljubicic then had to be replaced by Dalibor Velimirovic after twisting his knee, but another setback followed. A free-kick was only half cleared, and from a hopeful high ball the home defence was beaten, allowing David Cancola to fire home unmarked from an angle (52.) to put the away side 2:1 up. Only thanks to more good work from Strebinger did the score stay that way, a save from Dossou's shot (60.) the outstanding chance for the away side.
Rapid kept plugging away against this attacking Hartberg team though, and despite not capitalising on a host of half-chances, a goal was always on the cards, and it came after an incisive through ball from Ullmann found Fountas in the area, the Greek striker keeping hos composure to nutmeg Swete and bring us back to 2:2 (72.)! With over 15,000 home fans watching on, we wanted to go on and win! Fountas pushed forward once more and went down in the area under pressure from Kainz, no foul given though, and all of a sudden Hartberg had hoofed the ball up to Tadic, who cut back and fired into the corner to give the away side another advantage (83.).
In the final stages Melih Ibrahimoglu stepped up from the second team to make his debut, but that was not a signal that all was lost. Far from it in fact, the Green and Whites do not give up, and in the 96th minute, a floated Philipp Schobesberger cross found the head of Stefan Schwab, who glanced into the corner for a dramatic equaliser, 3:3! What a turnaround from the late action in the cup just days before! Relief for Rapid, but there was still time for Swete to save a long range shot from Auer before the whistle blew. There were some mixed feelings for Rapid after playing so well early on, but to leave undefeated with such a late goal is also a big boost for the side, a point is so much better than nothing!
tipico Bundesliga, 9th round:
SK Rapid - TSV Hartberg 3:3 (1:1)
Allianz Stadion, 15.500 Attendance, Ref Ebner
Goals: 1:0 Fountas (17.), 1:1 Dossou (45.), 1:2 Cancola (51.), 2:2 Fountas (72.), 2:3 Tadic (83.), 3:3 Schwab (96.);
SK Rapid: Strebinger – Auer, Dibon, Barac, Ullmann – D. Ljubicic (49. Velimirovic), Schwab – Fountas, Knasmüllner (84. Ibrahimoglu), Schobesberger – Badji (57. Arase);
TSV Hartberg: Swete – T. Kainz, Huber, Obermüller, Klem – Cancola, Nimaga (77. Ried), Rep – Dossou (86. Rotter), Gotal (46. Tadic), Heil;
Yellow Cards: Ljubicic, Schwab; Kainz, Cancola, Huber, Swete