Late Druijf goal can’t prevent Easter day defeat
On Easter Sunday, it was a big occasion for Rapid, as second-placed Sturm Graz hosted us in Styria. After missing several players for the previous game, Head Coach Ferdinand Feldhofer was able to welcome back Marco Grüll, Ferdy Druijf and Emanuel Aiwu - who played his 100th Bundesliga game - to the starting line-up. After the emotions of a fantastic win against Wolfsberger AC, the aim on Sunday was to build on that form in order to close the gap to Sturm in the Bundesliga table. We were looking for three points on our Easter egg hunt in Graz!
However, the match began in an unfortunate fashion: Thorsten Schick could not start as planned, and had to withdraw at short notice due to nausea (Yusuf Demir started in his place) - and after just one and a half minutes our captain Srdjan Grahovac had to leave the field injured, Moritz Oswald came on in his stead (2’). But despite the rocky start, our team didn't let it get them down and they came out confidently and even managed to dominate possession. Berni Zimmermann had the first chance to score (9’), before Filip Stojkovic put a header well over (11’). The game was in our hands, so to speak, but that only made it more frustrating, when after 25 minutes Niki Hedl surprisingly had to get the ball out of his net, as the Grazers took a fortunate lead. The game was intense and full of duels, we moved the ball about well, but unfortunately decisive chances remained few and far between for the Green & Whites. Shortly before the break, Robert Ljubicic had a go after a corner kick, but the shot ended in the hands of the goalkeeper (45’), so the team went into the dressing room with a narrow deficit.
We restarted with a change: Dragoljub Savic came on for Jonas Auer, who had to make way at the break due to injury (46’). Just ten minutes after the restart, Ferdy Druijf took a shot following an assist from Marco Grüll, but the effort was wide of the Sturm goal (59’). The decisive final passes weren’t quite coming off, and eventually the Styrians added to their tally and went up 2-0 up after a solo effort which left Niki Hedl no chance (61’). Ten minutes later, Christoph Knasmüllner and Nicolas Binder came on for Yusuf Demir and Moritz Oswald (71’). Our team tried to push on and get back into the game, but Graz always found a way to stop our attacks at the crucial moments. In the 88th minute we made another change, Christopher Dibon replaced Filip Stojkovic. Our number 17 made his presence felt immediately and almost scored in injury time (91’). After a corner kick, Ferdy Druijf rose highest to head the ball into the goal for 2-1 (92’), but unfortunately the goal came too late - just a minute later, the final whistle blew and confirmed the defeat.
After an intense match, in which the duels dominated proceedings, we unfortunately had to travel back to Hütteldorf without any points. But we can build on this performance - now it's time to analyse and continue working hard so that we can take our revenge next week as we play a return fixture at the Allianz Stadium. Keep going, lads!
Fotos: Red Ring Shots
Die Stimmen nach dem Spiel
Die Pressekonferenz nach dem Spiel
ADMIRAL Bundesliga | 27. Runde | Merkur Arena
Tore: Druijf (92.); Jantscher (25.), Hojlund (61.)
Rapid-11: Hedl; Auer (46. Savic), Wimmer, Aiwu, Stojkovic (88. Dibon); Grüll, Ljubicic, Grahovac © (2. Oswald/71. Knasmüllner), Demir (71. Binder); Druijf, Zimmermann
Ersatz: Unger, Knasmüllner, Schick, Dibon, Oswald, Savic, Binder