The team secure second spot with win over LASK
The situation going into the game was clear: A win over third placed LASK would secure second for Rapid, and with WAC not far behind in fourth there wasn’t too much room to speculate over the possible benefits of finishing third and taking the guaranteed Europa League place. Coach Didi Kühbauer had already confirmed that we would be gunning for all three points as always, and that was evidenced by an attacking formation featuring Max Ullmann and Kelvin Arase on the wings, as well as Stefan Schwab in behind forwards Ercan Kara (fresh from his winner against Sturm) and the returning Taxi Fountas.
The game began at a furious pace, Trauner headed over from a corner (2’) before we opened the scoring on our first foray into the LASK half. Fountas ran down the left following a good lay-off combination, and his powerful cross was deflected in by Andrade for 1-0 (4’)! Moments later Fountas again squared from the left for Schwab, and his prodded effort was just nudged wide by keeper Schlager (7’). From the resulting corner Kara headed just wide (7’).
The game was as hard-fought as it promised to be, and both teams were going for goal. Leo Greiml had to be alert to clear a ball in front of Tetteh, before the LASK striker had an effort ruled out for offside (16’). Andrade then tried to make up for his own goal with a fizzing low drive, but Tobias Knoflach superbly pushed the shot around the post (34’), before tipping a Wiesinger shot over the bar (35’). Despite neither side being allowed time on the ball, the chances kept coming, and on the stroke of half time the Green and Whites were further in front! Dejan Petrovic switched play perfectly to Fountas on the left, who then turned inside and let off a shot which - with the help of a small deflection - squeezed past Schlager's gloves and in off the back post (45’)! 2-0 Rapid!
With the squad coming out for the second period unchanged, it was the weather which made the difference. The heavens opened for the second half but we kept going of course, Kelvin Arase played a clever pass to Ullmann, whose shot looped up off a deflection, and with Schlager scrambling, came back down on the roof of the net (53’). With every inch of the midfield still being battled for, we continued to create the better chances despite LASK needing goals. Kara had two attempts on goal after getting behind the defence, but the first was parried (63’) and the next came back off the outside of the post (70’), so close!
Suddenly, the visitors were back in the tie after Klauss ran from the halfway line and shot across into the far corner, reducing the deficit to 2-1 (71’). LASK came close to a second, and the excellent Knoflach was called upon to make a flying stop to deny Klauss from a header (84’), before we sealed the win with a breakaway goal late on. Petrovic burst forward alongside substitutes Koya Kitagawa and Christoph Knasmüllner, and it was the latter who received the pass and slotted in for 3-1 (90’)! There were still more chances to make it four - including a goal ruled out for offside - but in the end it didn’t make a difference. The win made second spot safe for Rapid, and with that comes a place in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers next season! EUROPE HERE WE COME!
Photos: GEPA Pictures.
Bundesliga, 31st round:
SK Rapid - LASK 3:1 (2:0)
Allianz Stadion, Ref Altmann
Goals: 1:0 (4.) Andrade (Eigentor), 2:0 (45.) Fountas, 2:1 (72.) Klauss, 3:1 (91.) Knasmüllner;
SK Rapid: Knoflach – Stojkovic, D. Ljubicic, Greiml – Arase (69./Schick), Grahovac, Petrovic, Ullmann – Schwab, Kara (78./Kitagawa), Fountas (83./Knasmüllner)
LASK: Schlager – Wiesinger, Trauner, Andrade – Ranftl, Holland, Michorl, Renner – Tetteh (57./Klauss), Raguz, Frieser (78./Reiter)
Yellow Cards: Ljubicic, Petrovic; Raguz, Michorl