08.11.2018 21:19
UEFA Europa League, Team, Villarreal CF, Match report

Stalemate against Villarreal

The challenges were twofold as we welcomed Villarreal to the Allianz Arena in match day four of the UEFA Europa League. Firstly, the Hütteldorfers would have to put to one side the beating meted out by the Spaniards last time the two sides met; secondly, Rapid badly needed three points to propel themselves back into the reckoning for a qualifying berth at the top of the table. A sold-out stadium welcomed the Hütteldorfers to the field, with the atmosphere ramped up to its most intense by an in-form Block West and its impressive choreography. Mert Müldür, Christopher Dibon, Dejan Ljubicic and Andrija Pavlovic all came back into the starting eleven, with Veton Berisha, Stefan Schwab, Andrei Ivan and Thomas Murg shouldering the creative responsibility.

An attractive contest unfolded, with both sides looking to get the ball on the deck and move the opposition around with crisp passing and lively movement. A solo effort from Andrei Ivan saw the Romanian register the games' first effort on goal, but Yellow Submarine keeper Fernandez parried the ball to safety. Good defending at the other end of the field from Mario Sonnleitner resulted in Pedraza's shot whistling over the bar (15.), with the resulting corner requiring a fine diving stop from Strebinger to keep out a shot from the edge of the box by Caseres (16.). Sansone was next to test the Rapid keeper, as Villarreal exerted sustained pressure on the Hütteldorfers' defence for the first time in the match (20.). Rapid's best opening of the half arrived when Pavolvic fed the ball into Berisha, who took on the shot first time, drawing a smart save from Fernandez. The half time whistle went with the deadlock still very much intact.

 

Didi Kühbauer opted to send Christoph Knasmüllner out for the start of the second period in place of Thomas Murg, as the Rapid bench sort to inject some fresh attacking impetus. Andrija Pavlovic came close within ten minutes of the restart, but his shot from Berisha's cross went just wide of the far post (53.). The Serb then muscled his way past the Villarreal defenders as he fought for a ball that had dropped on the edge of the six-yard box, but Fernandez was again on hand to deny him (56.). It was a good start to the half from the Green & Whites and they continued to build momentum: a goal-bound volley from Berisha was blocked by a Spanish defender (66.), before a teasing ball across the goalmouth from the Norwegian didn’t find any takers (72.). This was Rapid’s best phase of the match, and it appeared as though a goal could be in the offing.

The more Rapid pushed and probed, the more the crowd responded. It looked as though the two had combined to reach fever pitch in the 82nd minute, but Knasmüllner's bullet volley was saved by Fernandez at his near post. But with the Green & Whites pushing for a winner with the raucous backing of the West Stadium, Villarreal offered a stark reminder of the undoubted quality in their side when firstly Cazorla fired a long range shot just inches wide (90.), and Marvin Potzmann produced a fantastic piece of defensive work in clearing off the line after the Spaniards threatened to snatch the win with an injury time counter attack. The game finished 0:0 - a solid result for Kühbauer's troops that keeps them in the hunt in a tense and tight group. In the night's other fixture, Spartak came from behind to beat Rangers, meaning it’s all to play for in the final two group games!

(gw)

 

UEFA Europa League, Gruppe G, 4th round:
SK Rapid - Villarreal CF 0:0
Weststadion, 22.100 Attendance, Ref Jovanovic (SRB)

SK Rapid: Strebinger – Potzmann, Dibon (75./Bolingoli), Sonnleitner, Müldür – Ljubicic, Schwab – Berisha, Murg (46./Knasmüllner), Ivan – Pavlovic (91./Martic);

Villarreal CF: Fernandez – Gaspar, Bonera (46./Funes Mori), Ruiz – Layun (62./Ekambi), Raba (75./Fornals), Caseres, Cazorla, Pedraza – Moreno, Sansone;

Yellow Cards: Schwab, Berisha, Sonnleitner; Caseres, Layun, Pedraza, Fornals