Positive Showing Unrewarded in Salzburg
An attacking first-half display was unrewarded in Salzburg, but having fallen two behind, a Guido Burgstaller spot kick ensured that SK Rapid pushed the league leaders all the way, and were ultimately a little unfortunate to come away with nothing.
Following a heartbreaking loss in last week’s ÖFB Cup final, it was back to ADMIRAL Bundesliga business for SK Rapid, as match day 28 saw the team face a trip to Salzburg. WIth the disappointment of the cup defeat still ringing in everyone’s minds, now it was time to focus on the league once more and push for the crucial European qualifying spots. After taking a hard-earned point from the recent home game against the same opposition, Head Coach Zoran Barišić wanted his side to show the same spirit in Sunday’s return fixture.
In the early exchanges, Rapid - in their away colours of blue and red - showed what they’re capable of. The lively Guido Burgstaller got away down the flank before his shot from a tight angle was blocked at the last moment (7’) and barely three minutes later a smooth switch of play saw Patrick Greil take aim from the outside of the box. His shot would have nestled perfectly inside the far post, but the Salzburg keeper made a desperate fingertip save to keep it out (10’). Marco Grüll also had a go with a trademark free kick, but that was blocked, too (15’).
Despite the strong start, Salzburg were the team to break the deadlock as a counter attack led up to a high quality Sekou Koita finish, putting the hosts ahead out of the blue (18’). Rapid were dealt a bitter blow but they did not let up, and Jonas Auer’s effort was so unlucky to only come back off the woodwork, before Burgstaller turned home the follow-up, albeit from an offside position (23’). The game was opening up with attacks flowing at both ends, Salzburg hit the frame of the goal themselves (31’) before Nic Kühn looked to be clean through but was denied at the last second (39’), leaving the hosts ahead by one after a busy first half. The team were playing well, and could have perhaps been awarded penalties for two separate handball incidents, but there was plenty of hope remaining.
Our team came back out unchanged, but nonetheless struggled to make the same impact that they had at times before the interval. Niki Hedl was forced into two outstanding stops to keep the scores close, as he denied the home team first from a shot on the turn (56’) and then from a long range effort (58’). However, five minutes later came a potentially decisive blow, as a looping pass got over our defence, where Koita was able to double Salzburg’s lead (62’). Again, Rapid were not about to lie down, and not long later, another handball incident in the box was to be checked by VAR, and this time, we had a penalty. In the ensuing discussions, Nicolas Capaldo was given his marching orders after complaining too much to the referee, yet Captain Burgstaller remained calm to dispatch the spot kick and reduce the deficit; 2-1 (70’), game on!
Our coach introduced fresh legs in the form of Oliver Strunz (73’) before Ferdy Druijf and Ante Bajic came in (83’) to try to secure the upper hand in the closing stages. Salzburg had shut up shop by now, and although Rapid were pushing, finding a clear goal-scoring chance was not proving possible. Berni Zimmermann and Martin Moormann came on as one last throw of the dice (87’), but despite a good showing, the game was concluded after 95 minutes with the hosts holding out for the win. There was a feeling in the air that more could have been possible on the day, and unfortunately we were left with no points to bring back home. However, there were plenty of positives in the performance to build upon for the rest of the season. Keep pushing, Rapid!
ADMIRAL Bundesliga | 28. Runde | RB Arena
Tore: Burgstaller (70./E); Koita (18., 62.)
Sonstiges: Capaldo (67./Gelb-Rot)
Rapid-11: Hedl; Auer (87. Moormann), Wimmer, Sollbauer, Schick; Oswald (73. Strunz), Kerschbaum; Grüll (82. Bajić), Greil (82. Druijf), Kühn (87. Zimmermann); Burgstaller ©
Ersatz: Gartler, Strunz, Koscelnik, Moormann, Bajić, Druijf, Zimmermann