Three points sealed in St. Pölten!
Match day 3 of the Bundesliga got started with something of a surprise, in terms of personnel at least, as Mateo Barac was deemed fit enough to start ahead of Leo Greiml, who had taken a knock. Centre back Barac, who began his comeback with the Rapid second team last week, was last involved in competitive action for the senior team way back in March, suffering with muscle complaints in the meantime. For us, the target was clear, after the 1-1 draw in Graz our team knew there was room for improvement, and they wanted to show that step forward in the first 45 minutes. The hosts were not just going to lie down and let that happen though! With their first attack down the right flank, Blauensteiner delivered a cross into the six-yard box, and new-signing Hugi fired in at the near post to leave goalie Strebinger no chance. 1-0 to the home side (6’). Rapid had the response that they needed though, and replied without hesitation by scoring their from their first chance, too! Dejan Ljubicic passed the ball to Taxi Fountas near the edge of the area, and the Greek striker picked his spot in the top corner with a delightful curled finish to level the scores: 1-1 (15’)!
The Green and Whites made it a one-two punch, by scoring once again from the very next attack! Home keeper Riegler felled the fleet-footed Thomas Murg as he ran into the area, and up stepped Ercan Kara to stick the resulting spot-kick into the bottom corner: 2-1 to Rapid, what a turnaround (16’)!
After that, the action kept on coming, Max Hofmann headed a Murg free-kick over the bar (21’) and at the other end Hugi slid in to meet a deep cross but couldn't steer the ball in (22’). Another Murg free-kick followed, and this time it was Kara who headed it over (26’) before Schulz tested Strebinger with a shot from an angle (37’). The keeper had to be more than just alert moments later as well, when a Hugi free-kick was destined for the top corner before being acrobatically parried away to safety (39’). The best chance before the break fell to us once again though, when Dejan Petrovic played-in Kelvin Arase in space on the left, his square ball then found Kara directly in front of goal, but a combination of defender and post kept the ball out (41’)! There was still time for one more Murg free-kick, but it was too close to the keeper (43’) and the whistle sounded for the interval. Plenty going on in this one!
The same XI started the second period, but soon after there was no choice but to make a change, Dejan Ljubicic couldn't continue and had to be replaced by Srdjan Grahovac. The game lost some of its fluidity thereafter, and Rapid switched towards a focus on possession, waiting until the hosts pushed up and left room to exploit on the counter. A Fountas long shot sailed over (69’) as did a Kara header (76’), and still a few St. Pölten players managed to find spaces of their own. The best chance came once again for Hugi, but when the ball fell kindly to him in the area Strebinger cleared well with his legs (78’). Max Ullmann hit another shot for Rapid that was rather too central (80’), before Kara had a trio of chances (83’, 84’, 88’) - but as it turned out, he had already scored the winner with his earlier penalty. Rapid carried the 2-1 lead over the line, and after two wins and a draw we now sit comfortably in second place in this fledgling new season!
Photos: GEPA Pictures.
tipico Bundesliga, 3rd round:
SKN St. Pölten - SK Rapid 1:2 (1:2)
NV Arena, 1.563 Attendance, Ref Ciochirca
Goals: 1:0 ( 6.) Hugi, 1:1 (15.) Fountas, 1:2 (17.) Kara (Elfmeter);
SKN St. Pölten: Riegler – Blauensteiner, Maranda, Muhamedbegovic, K. Schulz (85. Steinwender) – Schütz (73. Luxbacher), Pokorny, R. Ljubicic – Tanzmayr (46. Grozurek), Schmidt, Hugi
SK Rapid: Strebinger – Stojkovic, Hofmann, Barac, Ullmann – Petrovic, D. Ljubicic (50. Grahovac) – Murg (80. Sonnleitner), Fountas (80. Kitagawa), Arase (62. Demir) – Kara
Yellow Cards: Muhamedbegovic, K. Schulz, R. Ljubicic; Hofmann, Stojkovic, Ullmann