CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Thursday, August 9, 2012
Rapid Vienna vs FK Vojvodina
Europa League - Thursday August 9, 2012
Gerhard Hanappi Stadium
Rapid Vienna waited until the waning minutes of the second leg to salvage their Europa League campaign, thanks to an extra time penalty from Deni Alar and an insurance tally from Terrence Boyd.
The US national team striker drew the decisive penalty a minute into added time, and netted his first goal in European competition just before the curtain fell.
The dramatic finish in Vienna's Hanappi Stadium contrasted with an otherwise sluggish ninety in which Rapid controlled the tempo, but failed to capitalize on mistakes and convert the few chances they saw.
Within a minute of the opening whistle, Novi Sad came knocking on Rapid's door when Almani Moreira headed the end of a cross, but watched his attempt drop in front of Rapid keeper Lukas Königshofer.
The two sides exchanged drives forward splitting the possession but by the minute Rapid took control of the game. Eleven minutes in Rapid winger Christopher Drazan delivered a precise pass down left side for Guido Burgstaller, sending him off to the races, but his angled shot from just in the goal box beamed straight at Novi Sad's Nemanja Supic.
Rapid's pressure mounted and two minutes later, midfielder Thomas Prager found Rapid captain Steffen Hofmann for a 25-yard blast that sailed a foot over the bar.
Christopher Drazan continued his potent play at the quarter-hour mark, shaking off Serginho Greene down left side, and commencing Rapid's midfield ball movement around to the right via Prager to Hoffman. Back in possession, Prager pulled the trigger on a 30-yarder that rolled harmlessly left of the post.
Much of the play was physical with the referees reluctant to get involved until the very end. In the 24th minute, Hofmann earned a free kick from 25 yards out at left edge, dedided to take it himself, but struck well high of the bar.
Novi Sad struggled to create chances, but at the half-hour mark, Boyd was whistled for hard foul on Moreira, setting up Miroslav Vulićević free kick into the box. Boyd redeemed himself and nodded away the deliver to safety on the left side.
Fou minutes later the Serbian squad had another chance with a fine pass from Oumarou Aboubakar through to Miroslav Stevanovic, but defender Mario Sonnleitner was there to save the day and get a touch to send it out of bounds for a turnover.
A collision between Burgstaller and Trajkovic at the center circle in the 38th minute resulted in medical attention for the latter. With the defender on the sideline, the hosts tried to capitalize with Markus Katzer connecting with Burgstaller at the touchline. The Austrian striker found Boyd in the box, but Supic was there for the grab.
Having a 2-1 advantage in their home leg, the Serbian team seemed content to sit back, and try to catch the Austrians off guard. Yet, they managed one more chance before the half, when Vulićević beat Drazan down the right side, causing Drazan to shove him in the back to set up a free kick for Poletanovic a yard from the sideline deep in Rapid territory. The Serb lofted in an opportunity that Rapid cleared, but Almami Moreira returned with a shot well right of the target.
Just seconds into the second half Terrence Boyd sparked the offense, corralling the ball at the left corner of the box, skipping past a defender, and unleashing a lighting quick strike off that passed the right post.
Eight minutes into the second period, Boyd created the best chance of the first hour when he found Hoffman on the right, who then returned the favor and found the 21-year old charging into the box for a point-blank header that Supic lifted over the bar.
Serginho Greene was the first of many who entered the ref's book after a foul on Markus Heikkinen in the 59th minute.
With less than half an hour to play and Rapid desperately in need of a goal, playmaker Hofmann found Burgstaller in the box for a quick strike that Supic fell on.
Rapid coach decided to provide a boost to his squad in the 71st minute, bringing on Deni Alar, author of the away goal in Novi Sad for Thomas Prager.
Immediately on the restart Boyd dribbled through traffic, but struck lightly from 30 yards out past the right post.
Novi Sad skipper Zlatomir Zagorcic replied with his own substitution in the 73rd bringing out Nnaemeka Ajuru for Vuk Mitosevic.
Still in search of that vital goal, Heikkinen ended up with a header with his back to the goal from a few feet in front of the net, but it skimmed the crossbar over.
Seconds later, Boyd laid off for Hofmann whose strike took a deflection out for a corner on the right side, but rapid couldn't return the ball to the corner.
With a quarter hour to go Alar entered the referee's notebook for time wasting, and Boyd followed suit eight minutes later for a sidearm into the lower back of Pavlovic.
With the rush of the adrenaline and emotions, the game seemingly destined for a deadlock took a turn on its head in the 83rd minute, when Pavlovic was ejected with a red for clipping down Trimmel, followed by a yellow to Vulićević for dissent. Five minutes later Novi Sad's Djordje Jokic entered for Greene.
With a minute left in regular time and seemingly few opportunities left, Hofmann chipped forward for Gerson, whose strike at the touchline floated across the unguarded mouth of the goal, but no one was there to tap in.
As play entered the posted five minutes of extra time, Trajkovic fouled Boyd with a hand to the head, and referee Robert Malek immediately pointed to the spot.
After some discussion, Deni Alar stepped to the spot and coolly slid the vital goal into the right side of the net for the crucial 1-0 lead.
Novi Sad made one final push with Supic crossing the field for a free kick from the right side, but Königshofer beautifully lifted the attempt over the bar.
With seconds left on the referees watch in the 97th minute, Boyd added an insurance goal on a three-on-one break, in which Hoffman found the American unmarked on the left in the box. Boyd made no mistake and threaded a shot towards the right netting past Supic for the encore goal just before the final whistle.
Coach Peter Schöttel downplayed any accusation that his team was lucky. "The victory was deserved. I think the longer we played and poured on the pressure, it was clear that we were the best in the end."
After three fruitless offensive outings, Boyd was thrilled to be involved in both goals.
"Although I didn't score in a few games, you always have to keep working hard," the 21-year old stated after the game. "I'm just simply pleased to have made a difference tonight."
"I ran the entire time, and I'm just excited to get the result," Boyd added. "I'm so proud of this team, a strong-willed team."
The Green and Whites will face PAOK Saloniki on Aug 23 and 30 in the Play-off round of the Europa League.