Honours even in Top-4 clash
The Bundesliga was back with a bang after the international break, with Rapid welcoming 3rd placed Wolfsberger AC to the Allianz Stadium, lying just one place behind them ourselves, with a tantalising chance to leapfrog the Carinthians and gatecrash the top three! Philipp Schobesberger was missing for this one with an abdominal muscle strain, but Thomas Murg and Mario Sonnleitner both returned to the match day squad after short and long term injuries respectively.
The closely fought battle in the league table was reflected out on the pitch, with things becoming heated early on. Rapid pressed hard down the wings, but after a cross from the marauding Max Ullmann, visting keeper Kofler was able to smother the ball first from Taxi Fountas and then Aliou Badji. Next it was Wolfsberger's turn to push forward, with Richard Strebinger eventually parrying a Leitgeb header (18.) on his 150th competitive game for Rapid. Back up the other end, some good work by Dejan Ljubicic saw Filip Stojkovic receive the ball deep in the penalty area, with his shot hammered over the bar from the right (20.), and soon after, Fountas found space on the counter and this time went round Kofler, but was unable to beat him from the angle (23.).
The deadlock was soon broken though; with men over once more Badji set up Christoph Knasmüllner, whose shot pinged back off the near post towards the well placed Taxi Fountas. His lightning reflexes allowed him to nudge the ball over the line for 1-0 (31.)! We remained in the ascendency after the goal, and Fountas chased down hard to pressure the Wolfsberger back line once more, turning the ball over for Knasmüllner, whose shot was deflected away (38.). From the resulting corner, Mateo Barac rose highest but his header was off target, so it stayed 1-0 at the interval.
In the second half, Rapid remained on the front foot, Badji putting a shot wide on the turn (56.). Another chance went begging when Fountas' shot was blocked after he could have picked out Ullmann, but unfortunately he didn’t spot his colleague in time (59.). Wolfsberger came back into the game with a Niangbo shot from range (60.) which sailed wide, but we didn’t stay in the lead much longer; Leitgeb heading in a Liendl corner from close range (64.) to level things up at 1-1. There was a chance to restore the lead right away, but Kofler again denied Fountas with solid palms (66.).
Kelvin Arase was introduced (58.) and Thomas Murg returned (68.), as Didi Kühbauer searched for an offensive boost, and it was our boys who looked most likely to grab a second goal, but time began ticking away and the game started to tighten up too. With Christopher Dibon heading wide from a corner (87.), it remained 1-1 to the end, meaning no changes in the table, and seeing both teams preserving hard-earned unbeaten runs. A point a piece was what everyone had to satisfy themselves with at the end of a tough day. Next up for us, an enticing dual versus table-toppers Salzburg, on the road.
Bundesliga, 11. Runde: SK Rapid - WAC
tipico Bundesliga, 11th round:
SK Rapid - WAC 1:1 (1:0)
Allianz Stadion, 21.200 Attendance, Ref Harkam
Goals: 1:0 Fountas (31.), 1:1 Leitgeb (64.);
SK Rapid: Strebinger – Hofmann, Dibon, Barac – Stojkovic (81./Auer), D. Ljubicic, Schwab, Ullmann – Knasmüllner (69./Murg) – Badji (58./Arase), Fountas
WAC: Kofler – Novak, Sollbauer, Rnic, Schmitz – Schmid (93./Wernitznig), M. Leitgeb, Liendl (77./A. Schmidt), Ritzmaier – Weissman (88./Schmerböck), Niangbo
Yellow Cards: Ljubicic, Fountas, Badji, Murg, Hofmann, Schwab; Rnic, Novak, Schmid, Sollbauer;