2-0 vs WSG - Off to a winning start in 2020!
The start to the spring season was finally here on Sunday, with weeks of winter training behind us. We welcomed WSG Tirol to the Allianz Stadium to get things going, with a place in the Championship Group already secured via other results from the weekend. The top-six group will have to wait for a few weeks though, for now, we had a job to do against 12th placed WSG. The emotions in the stadium were especially high for this one, with a minute's silence being commemorated before kick-off in honour of club legend Alfred "Fredi" Körner and Koby, a founding member of the Rapid Ultras. Our side also wore black armbands to mark the occasion.
With the action about to get underway, some fantastic choreographies were on display from Block West, who bade an emphatic farewell to Andy Marek as he put down his stadium microphone after 27 years and 599 games of service to the club. Andy didn't have long to wait to enjoy a goal announcement in his final game. Rapid led after just 40 seconds when Max Ullmann was afforded too much space on the left, and lashed in a powerful strike from the corner of the box which cannoned in off the underside of the bar (1’). We carried on pressing at 1-0; a fierce long-shot from Taxi Fountas went just wide (10’), and WSG needed a goal-line clearance to stop Ullmann adding his second from a Filip Stojkovic cross (19’). With the Tirolers struggling to clear, Thomas Murg had a go from close range, but his shot was parried well by back-up keeper Beccari (25’). WSG only really had one attempt of their own, with Dedic miscuing a volley well over the bar (32’).
The second goal always looked like it would go our way, but it didn’t happen for a while. Some neat combination play from Kelvin Arase and Ullmann set-up Fountas on a quick breakaway, but his quickly-taken shot from the left was saved again by Beccari (35’); Christoph Knasmüllner then saw his free-kick bounce back off the bar and to the feet of Srdjan Grahovac, who could only slice the ball wide of the post (40’). Eventually, a well-deserved second did come along thanks to Taxi Fountas, who took advantage of a loose touch during WSG's deep defensive passing play and slotted home off the far post (41’), before dedicating the goal to Andy Marek. He almost gave Andy another one to celebrate before the break, but his shot was lifted over the bar (45’).
Rapid returned for the second half without Christopher Dibon, who was replaced by Mario Sonnleitner as a precaution following an earlier clash of heads. The 22,800 home fans saw their side continue to push on, with Fountas again firing over from the edge of the area on the bounce (53’). The Green and Whites then thwarted some WSG half-chances, remaining cohesive and compact against a better spell from the visitors, who threatened from a couple of corners. Back up the other end, Stojkovic looped a cross from the right onto the top of the bar (72’), before what looked like a third goal from Knasmüllner was called back for a marginal offside in the build up against Arase (74’). Just before the end WSG went close once again, Cabrera lifting the ball over Richard Strebinger, but wide of the target (89.), and yet there was still one more chance for Rapid to boost the scoreline, Knasmüllner giving Beccari one final test after being set-up by Dejan Petrovic, who had come on in the latter stages to make his Rapid debut.
2-0 it stood at the end, and although it could have been a more emphatic scoreline, it was enough to put three more points on the board and give Andy Marek the farewell present he fully deserved, with the fans celebrating his legacy long after the final whistle was blown.
tipico Bundesliga, 19th round
SK Rapid - WSG Tirol 2:0 (2:0)
Allianz Stadion, 22.800 Attendance, Ref Hameter
Goals: 1:0 Ullmann (1.), 2:0 Fountas (41.);
SK Rapid: Strebinger – Stojkovic, Dibon (46./Sonnleitner), Barac, Ullmann – Grahovac (80./Petrovic), Schwab – Murg (72./Kitagawa), Knasmüllner, Arase – Fountas;
WSG Tirol: Beccari – F. Koch, Cabrera, Soares, Adjei – Santin (46./Kovacec), Petsos, Grgic (79./Svoboda), Pranter (72./Rieder) – Dedic, Maierhofer;
Yellow Cards: Murg, Grahovac; Maierhofer, Grgic, Petsos