In their first competitive game of the year, Rapid moved ahead into the ÖFB Cup semi-finals, delivering the anticipated result. Despite being the favorite, the team had to fight harder than expected. The score was tied at 1-1 until the 77th minute of the game against the second division team SKN St. Pölten. Then, an own goal by Christian Ramsebner set the stage for promotion, and a final goal by Matthias Seidl sealed the victory with a 3:1 final score. Reflecting on the match, Coach Robert Klauß commented, “It was a lot of hard work.”
Shockingly, his team fell behind by 0:1 just eleven minutes into the game. This was due to a questionable penalty decision, along with a poorly executed start by Hütteldorfer. “It was a difficult game, but it was our own fault because we weren’t present in the first 20 minutes. We lacked sharpness and clarity,” Klauß critically remarked. It took some time for the team to get into the competitive mode.
Improvement of the Rapidlers
The home team only began finding their footing midway through the first half. “We worked back into the game and were very dominant, not allowing the opponent much room,” Klauß noted. Overall, the German coach was satisfied: “I’m proud of the team for how they worked their way out of the situation. In the end, what counts is that we are in the semi-finals.” He also highlighted that turning a 0-1 deficit into a 3-1 victory “can have a positive effect”.
Both the SKN goal and Rapid’s 1:1 were the result of controversial hand penalties, only determined after intense VAR assessment. “I don’t want to have both penalties either for me or against me. Neither of them were penalties for me. But in the end, it evened out,” Klauss noted.
The journey continues for Rapid in the semi-finals, where they will face either champions Red Bull Salzburg, cup defending champions Sturm Graz, or second division team DSV Leoben. Regardless of the opponent, Klauß is unfazed, stating, “If you want to be a cup winner, you have to beat everyone anyway. We’ll take it as it comes.” The 39-year-old would welcome a home game and wouldn’t mind facing Salzburg as an opponent. “In Germany we always said you have to meet Bayern at home in the cup because you have no chance against them in the final.”
The draw for the semi-finals will be held in early April, with the matches scheduled for this Sunday.