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Spielbericht, Profis, ADMIRAL Bundesliga

Grüll’s Goal Completes a Terrific Turnaround against Sturm

SK Rapid produced a stirring comeback in the final Championship Round home game to overturn a 2-0 deficit against SK Sturm and keep European qualifying ambitions within the club’s own grasp. Early difficulties were long forgotten thanks to goals from Guido Burgstaller, Roman Kerschbaum and Marco Grüll on a special Sunday in Hütteldorf.

On the penultimate matchday of the ADMIRAL Bundesliga season, Rapid welcomed league runners-up SK Sturm to Hütteldorf in a repeat of the recent ÖFB Cup final. Sturm won on that occasion, and in fact had won the previous four meetings with the Green & Whites, but that had to be used as motivation for Head Coach Zoran Barisic and his players, as Rapid remained right in the hunt for European qualification, starting the day just one point behind fourth-placed Austria Vienna before the round 31 fixtures. The departing players Dejan Petrovic, Lion Schuster and Christoph Knasmüllner were given a send-off in front of the home crowd as thanks for their seasons of service for the club, but in the starting XI Niki Hedl was able to return in goal after his shoulder injury, as top scorer Guido Burgstaller captained the team up front.

Rapid started off on the front foot and switched play nicely from left to right, where Marco Grüll delivered a dangerous low cross, yet the Sturm defence were able to boot the ball to safety (5’), and with the first attack from the visitors, Manprit Sarkaria found room on the right of the area, where he fired the ball in off the crossbar to put Sturm ahead (10’). The home team settled quickly after that blow, and the game developed into a midfield battle, with Burgstaller working hard to create openings especially down the right. The teams traded chances as Alexander Prass smashed a long shot over the top for Sturm (25’), before a Rapid set piece came to Kevin Wimmer in space at the far side of the box, although his side-footed volley sailed just off target (27’).

Sturm struck another blow just after the half hour mark, when a throw-in fell to Otar Kiteishvili at the edge of the box; who then turned and hit an early shot which snuck in past the dive of Niki Hedl. 2-0 we trailed (33’). The next chance also went Sturm’s way, as the away side were looking full of confidence, but this time Hedl was able to get across well to parry a low strike from Prass (38’), and that gave Rapid the foundation from which to mount a response. A pass across the box came to Guido Burgstaller, who dropped his shoulder, turned towards goal and arrowed a shot in at the near post. 2-1, and the game was back on (40’)! A frantic end to the first half then saw Moritz Oswald turn a low cross agonisingly over (43’), but Rapid stuck at it, and found a leveller in stoppage time when Roman Kerschbaum rose highest to head in a corner kick! 2-2 (45’+3).

Guido Burgstaller was on the mark once more for Rapid, as his goal began our brilliant comeback! © GEPA

The second half began with Rapid on the rise after the stirring comeback, and the sea of supporters in Green & White were making their presence felt! Michael Sollbauer’s header was the first glimpse at goal (51’) before at the other end, Emanuel Emegha sent a dangerous ball across the six-yard-box with nobody to receive it (54’), before Niki Hedl produced a decent save to deny Jon Gorenc-Stankovic’s header (59’). The next header was in the Sturm area, as Burgstaller and Grüll got up for a cross, but as they clashed with the defence the ball went wide (63’). With their tails up, Rapid swept forward again, and when Burgstaller lofted a pass over the top into the path of Marco Grüll, our number 27 calmly buried his low shot across the keeper and in to complete a remarkable turnaround. 3-2 Rapid (66’)!

Tomi Horvat’s deflected strike caught only the side netting (69’) but it was a reminder of Sturm’s attacking qualities. As the Rapid quarter-hour came around, Hedl had to be alert to save another headed attempt, and Sturm were now pushing for an equaliser of their own. The home side stayed firm before a scramble in the box right on 90 minutes saw the Rapid defence just manage to block the ball to safety several times, but in the course of the five added minutes, there would be no way back for the visitors, and Rapid held on for three massive points which leave fourth place well with reach ahead of next weekend’s final league game away in Klagenfurt. LET’S GO RAPID!

Fotos: GEPA

ADMIRAL Bundesliga | 31. Runde | Allianz Stadion

Tore: Burgstaller (40.), Kerschbaum (45.+4), Grüll (66.); Sarkaria (10.), Kiteishvili (33.)

Rapid-11: Hedl; Auer, Wimmer, Sollbauer, Schick (84. Koscelnik); Pejić, Kerschbaum (77. Druijf); Grüll (90.+2 Strunz), Oswald (84. Greil), Kühn (84. Bajić); Burgstaller © 

Ersatz: Gartler, Strunz, Koscelnik, Greil, Moormann, Bajić, Druijf