UCL Quali: Strong showing not enough against Gent
Head coach Didi Kühbauer started with his strongest XI in Gent, with the intention clearly being to bring the best possible performance in order to reach the Champions League Play-Off stage. It almost worked out for us on the night, as our boys battled with heart, stuck at their task brilliantly and only narrowly missed out in the end.
It seemed to be only a matter of time until the Green & Whites took the lead, especially in the early stages; we won the ball and Taxi Fountas had the first decent shot after just 2 minutes, but it was parried. Next came a beautiful pass across the pitch from Dejan Petrovic towards Max Ullmann, whose volleyed shot went straight into the arms of Gent keeper Roef (6’). Thomas Murg got away from a few players with Rapid's next foray forward, but he was pushed off balance just before his shot came off and went narrowly wide (17’). He also had a go from a direct free-kick which also didn’t miss the target by much (32’). Out of nowhere, we suffered a setback: a long cross from Kums came into the penalty area, and Dorsch snuck away from the defence at the back post to head in for 1-0 (36’). The hosts were boosted by their surprise lead and Yaremchuk passed up a chance before the interval (42’), yet Rapid also remained on the attack with Fountas seeing a well-placed long shot just tipped to satefy (44’). From the resulting corner, Ullmann hit a dipping shot which sailed just over the bar (45’).
Our team didn't have much reason to reproach themselves after that half, except for their failure to take the lead. Before the second half got underway there was a group huddle to try to keep the team believing in what they could achieve in Gent. With a will to win, we carried on, Ercan Kara first hit a powerful shot from a tight angle (51’) before running into the box to get on the end of a Fountas pass (52’) but there was no goal to show for the efforts. Much like in the first half, it was Rapid who were pushing on, and Gent who grabbed the goal. This time it was a penalty for the hosts after contact in the box from Leo Greiml, and Yaremchuk made the most of his chance despite Richard Strebinger getting close: 2-0 (58’).
The game was far from over though, and Rapid threw everything they could at Gent, desperately looking for a goal. Murg played a nice pass to Fountas, but his shot was deflected away from a promising position (64’), and with the time starting to tick away the task became increasingly difficult. It all changed just before the final whistle, when substitute Yusuf Demir turned and ran across the edge of the box before curling a beautiful strike into the bottom corner for 2-1 (92’). We almost did enough for the equaliser too, Ullmann's cross was met by Greiml, but he headed wide of the target (94’), and the game was over!
Our team delivered a great performance but went away empty-handed after so many chances were missed, but with a showing like that, we can certainly look forward to the challenges awaiting us in the UEFA Europa League. You can hold your heads up high after that one boys! RAPID!
Photos: GEPA Pictures.
UEFA Champions League, 3rd round Qualification:
KAA Gent - SK Rapid 2:1 (1:0)
Ghelamco Arena, Ref Ekberg
Goals: 1:0 Dorsch (36.), 2:0 Jaremtschuk (59./Penalty), 2:1 Demir (92.);
Gent: Roef – Castro-Montes, Arslanagic, Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Fortuna – Kums, Owusu, Dorsch (64./Odjidja-Ofoe) – Jaremtschuk (89./Kleindienst), Depoitre, Chakvetadze (60./Besus);
SK Rapid: Strebinger – Stojkovic, Hofmann, Greiml – Arase (73./Demir), D. Ljubicic (86./Kitagawa), Petrovic (86./Grahovac), Ullmann – Murg, Fountas – Kara;
Yellow Cards: Hofmann, Arase, Fountas, Demir