UECL Quali: Dominant Performance Earns only a Draw
For the first European match of the season, 17,200 fans flocked to Hütteldorf and the floodlights were on: everything was set up for an exciting start to UEFA Europa Conference League Qualifying at the Allianz Stadium! Debrecen VSC from Hungary were the visitors for the first leg of the 3rd round of UECL qualification, our first Hungarian visitors to Gerhard Hanappi Platz for 38 years. We wanted to set the tie up well for the second leg, and head coach Zoran Barišić sent the same starting XI onto the field for the third time in succession.
The 90 minutes began in a heated, intense fashion - but no big scoring chances came along early on. Jonas Auer did well down the flank before setting up European debutant Matthias Seidl, but his finish was ultimately too central (12’). The woodwork came to Rapid’s rescue a little later from a Debrecen direct free kick (18’), and the Hungarian side kept things tight at the back for the opening half hour. Thorsten Schick had a look from distance but his shot was quickly blocked (27’), and then it was Marco Grüll’s turn to try a shot from a dead ball situation, but it ended up just off target (32’).
Rapid certainly were not giving up, Nenad Cvetković placed his header just wide (36’) and a Grüll follow-up effort was also just past the post (37’), before the ball finally hit the back of the net, only for a suspected handball by Guido Burgstaller to see the “goal” ruled out (38’). Our captain again had a good chance just before the break, but his skilful volley was parried away by the visiting keeper (43’), and so a first half punctuated by fouls and interruptions ended up level, and goalless.
The team came out unchanged after the interval, but the game kept the same flavour, with foul after foul increasing only the tension. Nic Kühn couldn’t quite take advantage of a mistake in the away team’s build up play (53’) as Rapid had the first chance of the second half. Five minutes later it was out number 10 who took aim, but curled the ball only into the gloves of the Debrecen keeper. The guests held their own in the game, and their play prevented Rapid from gaining any rhythm. Nikolas Sattlberger tried to cut through directly with a long-range effort, but it was well away (65’).
After 68 minutes there was a change in Green & White, as Patrick Greil replaced Nikolas Sattlberger, but the ball still wouldn’t go in when Burgstaller was the next player to attempt a shot from range (69’). The guests then grew into the game, and after 80 minutes created their best chance so far, once more, the post helped keep the ball out. Coach Barišić reacted by bringing on fresh legs in the form of Oliver Strunz and Fally Mayulu for Kühn and Seidl (81’), and unfortunately with our next attacking move, Burgstaller’s finish lacked the curl it needed to spin into the net (87’). Happily, we saw Ante Bajić making his comeback from injury as he replaced Grüll (89’), but even with the new players, there were no more big chances to claim a winning goal.
After 94 minutes, the game was up, and the score board still read 0-0. After a tense, tight game, everything remains open for next week’s away match, in which we will aim to decide this one in our favour! Let’s go Rapid!
UEFA Europa Conference League | 3. Qualifikationsrunde | Allianz Stadion
Rapid-11: Hedl; Auer, Cvetković, Querfeld, Schick; Kerschbaum, Sattlberger (68. Greil); Grüll (89. Bajić), Seidl (81. Mayulu), Kühn (81. Strunz); Burgstaller ©
Ersatz: Unger, Gartler, Greil, Strunz, Mayulu, Sollbauer, Hofmann, Koscelník, Moormann, Oswald, Bajić, Bajlicz