RECAP: RAPID VIENNA 4 - 3 SV RIED
The Viennese found their former form and held off a late comeback thanks to a trio of goals from Deni Alar, and a goal and two assists from Terrence Boyd.
The heated Saturday encounter saw five yellow cards issued to each team, but the visitors left with ten men.
Terrence Boyd returned to the Rapid lineup after serving a yellow-card suspension and to his offensive form, notching the opener and assisting on two of Alar's tallies.
With the shadow of recent struggles looming over the Hanappi Stadium, the hosts brought the Green-and-White faithful to their feet after 25 minutes, when Boyd sneaked in behind the defense off a Deni Alar corner, and nodded home from five yards in front of the net for the 1-0 lead.
Ried's leading marksman Rene Gartler equalized nine minutes later after leading the charge down the left side with a nifty backheel, leading to a Marco Meilinger feed into the box. Taking a tap from Robert Zulj, Gartler caught up with the deflection and rifled past an immobile Lukas Königshofer to draw even 1-1.
With the first half looking to end on level terms, Rapid took advantage of poor defending and nabbed one before the break. With no Ried defender able to clear a routine drive forward, Boyd returned the favor and nodded ahead to Alar who struck a left-footer past Thomas Gebauer to take the 2-1 lead to the locker rooms.
Alar added another after Marcel Ziegl brought down Lukas Grozurek in the area, prompting referee Alexander Harkam to point to the spot and issue a yellow to the Ried midfielder. The 22-year-old Austrian converted the penalty with ease past Gebauer for the 3-1 advantage.
Alar wasn't finished with his scoring outburst, adding his eighth of the season in the 80th minute again with a little help from Boyd. In quick succession, Christopher Trimmel won a header off Königshofer's goal kick, and found Boyd with his back to the net outside the box. The American chested down and flicked to his right for Alar, who blasted a one-timer off the rattled framework for the apparent 4-1 runaway rout.
However, Rapid defender Mario Sonnleitner tripped up Gartler in the box in the 84th. For which Harkam awarded a penalty. Anel Hadzic stepped to the spot and chipped past a duped Königshofer to give Ried hope at 4-2.
Rapid wondered what hit them in the 92nd minute after 83rd-minute substitute Markus Grössinger unleashed a strike in traffic just outside the top of the box, that managed to find space to the right of Königshofer for a 4-3 score.
But a Ried comeback was thwarted a minute later after Thomas Reifeltshammer brought down Alar with a two-legged challenge, thus ending his day with a red card and dashing Ried's hopes.
The Viennese remain in the race at the top of the Bundesliga with 35 points, two behind Red Bull Salzburg, and seven behind their crosstown rivals Austrian Vienna.
Rapid also remain at home for their final encounter of an otherwise disappointing Europa League run, hosting Metalist Kharkiv on Thursday before resuming league action at home on Sunday against Wacker Innsbruck.