What a show of strength! Rapid Vienna were left literally chanceless as our boys unleashed 90 minutes of one-way football. The 3-0 victory leaves us with a seven-point cushion ahead of our defeated closest rivals in the title race.
Coach Jesse Marsch placed his faith in the same side for the third time in a row and saw Patson Daka leave our first mark on the game with a header into the side netting after a matter of seconds. The Zambian continued to cause all kinds of trouble for the hosts - Mergim Berisha sent a through ball for the striker to pounce on in style in a one-on-one battle with the keeper on the edge of the area. Just as we went off to celebrate, an offside call came. While it's tricky to judge marginal calls like that, we couldn't help feeling aggrieved as replays showed the goal should have stood.
The Rapid Vienna side struggled to contain us and had to resort to fouls, allowing our boys to threaten from set pieces. Toni Bernede was able to cut a Junuzovic corner back outside the box and Max Wöber sent a shot dipping on goal - only for Strebinger to dive to keep it out. We made the next one count, however! Sladdi took the corner again, and Enock Mwepu headed it onto the crossbar at the near post. Berisha reacted to chest the rebound onto Andre Ramalho, who showed composure to slide the ball in past the helpless Strebinger for the opening goal (36')! The goalscorer then sought to send Daka in for the second with a spectacular long pass, and the Zambian held Barac off superbly but fired over!
Those lucky enough to be in the stadium had barely retaken their seat by the time the referee made another key decision. Hofmann made a clumsy challenge on Daka when he was the last man (46'). He was dismissed for his trip on Patson, and the resulting free-kick from 20 yards out was sent smashing into the crossbar by Junuzovic! Our side continued on the front foot with Barac denying Aaronson from short-range with a header off the goal line before Berisha was denied from a tight angle by Strebinger.
The Viennese goalkeeper was doing everything he could to keep his side in it. He dived spectacularly to keep out a curling Aaronson drive. Substitute Karim Adeyemi gave him a slightly easier task after brilliantly twisting past several Rapid players but hitting his shot over. While the side placed second were not able to hit a single shot on goal in the entire game, our boys pushed to extend their lead. Rasmus Kristensen picked out Mwepu, who took aim from distance. His effort took a deflection off Greiml and sailed past Strebinger! As the assistant referee saw Adeyemi as being in the goalkeeper's eyeline in an offside position, the goal was disallowed. Another debatable call!
The hosts finally threw their ten men forward at the end, allowing us to seal the points on the break. Okafor sent Adeyemi free, and he fired home when one-on-one (90+3') before he popped up at the far post following a Kristensen cross and bundled it in for 3-0 (90+5')!
They are three important points and it's a very important win for us, even if it wasn't our best performance! We defended very well, and the opponents almost never threatened. I would have been much happier if we had scored the second goal a little earlier, as we could have all relaxed a bit. It wasn't easy though as we could only really lose in that situation. We still have a lot to do, as there are eight matches left. As soon as nobody can catch us, we will be happy to take the plaudits.
It was a very important win. We had a 1-0 lead for a long time, also because Rapid remained compact after the red card and were happy to rely on breaks. At the same time, we took an unnecessary risk at times. We did well though and kept a clean sheet. My first goal of the season couldn't have come at a better time. We know that we have a decent lead now, but we need to keep our feet on the ground.
Bernardo for Bernede (74'), Adeyemi for Berisha (74'), Okafor for Aaronson (85'), Seiwald for Mwepu (90+1')
Ulmer (45+5' foul)
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