Rapid rue missed chances in derby draw
Rapid went into the 330th Vienna Derby with more than just hope, coming in off the back of a fine 4-0 win against LASK, and the players were welcomed inside a sold-out Allianz Stadium by a stunning 120th anniversary fan choreography. A game against city rivals Austria was on the cards for match day 17, and they too came into the game after a big win, beating their top 6 rivals Hartberg 5-0 last weekend. Oddly, Rapid had never been able to win a derby at their new home, and so the goal was clear for the 330th meeting between the sides. Top scorer Taxi Fountas missed out on the game after becoming a father on the morning of the match day, so Aliou Badji started alongside Kelvin Arase up front, and plenty of youth options awaited on the bench too, in the form of Lion Schuster, Yusuf Demir and Adrian Hajdari.
In a frenetic opening phase, the visitors took the lead, Monschein profiting by bringing the ball under control with more than a hint of handball, before serving Sarkaria who clipped home over Richi Strebinger for 1-0 (3’). With the very next attack, Rapid drew level, much to the delight of the packed stadium. Arase played the ball to Christoph Knasmüllner on the right, and his low cross was met near the edge of the area by Stefan Schwab, who steered a flat shot finely into the bottom corner to equalise (4’)! The game wasn’t even 5 minutes old at this point, and already the fans had been through the emotional wringer!
The game settled down somewhat after that, but was still full of chances at both ends. Badji fired wide with a daisy-cutter after holding up the ball well (23’) before Grünwald latched onto a lofted cross at the back-post, beating Strebinger with his header, but not Mario Sonnleitner, who cleared from right in front of the gaping goal (26’). Badji went close again when his stooping header hit only the stanchion from a Schwab free kick (29’), but then in the closing stages of the half, the guests began to apply more pressure.
Sarkaria played a pinpoint cross which was dispached by Pichler’s diving header for a sudden 2-1 Austria lead (39’), and he had another shot tipped over the bar (43’) before being denied stunningly by Strebinger in a similar play to the opening goal (44’). Our keeper still had more work to do in time added on, keeping out a Monschein shot, but he could only watch as Palmer-Brown’s header from the resulting corner just missed the target. Rapid trailed by one at half time then, behind but still well in touch.
Coach Kühbauer was searching for a cutting edge, and went for it with two half time changes, Thomas Murg coming on, and Hajdari making his first appearance by stepping up from the reserve team. The impact was felt immediately, with Maximilian Ullmann testing Lucic in the Austria goal with an angled shot (48’), before Fitz stung the palms of Strebinger (50’) who also struggled with a swerving set piece (53’). Rapid remained the more attacking side overall though, Badji being blocked by a last-ditch tackle (54’), and Knasmüllner getting agonisingly close to connecting with an arrowed cross at the back post (68’).
That one didn’t go in, but moments later, Dejan Ljubicic picked up the ball just outside the area and buried a brilliant low shot in the bottom corner in front of the home faithful (69’) to pull our side level once again at 2-2! That set the game up perfectly for Rapid’s famous final 15 minutes, in which we created several good chances to snatch a win.
Firstly Badji was released down the right, but his shot was dragged across the face of the goal (75’), and he went close with another header (81’) which Lucic dived to tip past the post. Lucic made his presence felt further when he denied Knasmüllner from inside the 6-yard box (86’), keeping him out again in a gilt-edged one on one chance (88’) and then stopping Badji’s effort in a late three vs two breakaway (90’). The winning goal simply was not to be, leaving it all-square at 2-2, perhaps a fair result on the overall balance of play, but at least Rapid left with a point after trailing twice. Next weekend brings 2019’s action to a close away at Admira (Saturday 14th December, 17:00).
tipico Bundesliga, 17th round:
SK Rapid - FK Austria 2:2 (1:2)
Allianz Stadium, 26.100 Attendance, Ref Schörgenhofer
Goals: 0:1 (3.) Sarkaria, 1:1 (4.) Schwab, 1:2 (39.) Pichler, 2:2 (69.) Ljubicic;
SK Rapid: Strebinger – Sonnleitner (46. Hajdari), Dibon, Barac – Arase, Grahovac (46. Murg), D. Ljubicic, Ullmann – Knasmüllner, Schwab – Badji;
FK Austria: Lucic – Klein, Palmer-Brown, Madl, Martschinko – Ebner, A. Grünwald – Sarkaria, Fitz (88. Wimmer), B. Pichler (80. Serbest) – Monschein (89. Edomwonyi);
Yellow Cards: Dibon, Ullmann, Ljubicic; Monschein;