The 9th round of the Tipico Bundesliga meant that every team had now faced off against each other once this season. The weekend action continued in the same fashion as the last round, with both Vienna sides finally finding some consistent form, despite poor starts to the season. Wolfsberger AC and Red Bull Salzburg failed to pick up any points, losing to Rapid and Austria Vienna, respectively, the league has become much more competitive, with the gap between second and third now only 3 points. However, the big news of the weekend was the departure of SK Sturm Graz manager, Darko Milanič, who was snapped up by Leeds Utd owner, Massimo Cellino. The Slovenian, much to the delight of Sturm fans, left the club under happier circumstances than much of his reign, with Lukas Spendlhofer grabbing an 84th minute winner to condemn SV Ried to their 5th defeat of the season. Here is a full round-up of the results:
SK Rapid Vienna 3-0 Wolfsberger AC
FC Admira Wacker 0-0 SV Grödig
SC Rheindorf Altach 2-0 SC Wiener Neustadt
SV Ried 0-1 SK Sturm Graz
Red Bull Salzburg 2-3 FK Austria Vienna
#1 Robert Berić – Berić, 23, a Summer recruit from Sturm, who had spent €1m for his services from Maribor, was in fine form against league leaders Wolfsberger. The Slovenian, who reminds me of Ruud Van Nistelrooy, given they both love a goal from 6 yards out, stood out in Rapid’s 3-0 victory on Saturday afternoon, where he scored twice. His first goal of the afternoon was classic Berić. A sweeping ball out of the Rapid midfield met Florian Kainz perfectly on the left-side of the Wolfsberger area. The winger, also an ex-Sturm player, played a delicious and delicate first-time ball across the 6-yard box, with Berić tapping home, completely unmarked. I am the first to admit that I am a long-time critic of the Slovenian striker, given his ability to completely drift out of a game and often wasting very good chances. This was not the case against the league leaders. With the game poised at 1-0, Berić seemingly killed the game off with a great solo effort, that any striker in the league would have been proud of. Following a poor clearance by Alexander Kofler, Berić picked up the ball inside the Wolves’ half, he then out-muscled and outpaced Michael Sollbauer, before shooting across goal, nut-megging the defender in the process and finding the bottom corner. It was his 6th goal in only 8 Bundesliga games this season, and his fourth in two games.
#2 Florian Kainz – Kainz, 21, another recruit from Graz this season, is steadily becoming a pivotal figure in the Rapid Vienna side, with his pace down the left-hand side giving Bundesliga right-backs plenty to worry about. The game on the weekend was without doubt, his best of the season, where he assisted Berić’s first goal of the afternoon, but also got a goal himself. As previously mentioned, his assist was a delightful touch, but his goal was even better. Following dogged work by Berić deep inside the away side’s half to regain possession, he then laid-off to Philipp Schobesberger, who in turn, slid the ball to Kainz, who flicked the ball into the corner of the net, despite facing away from the goal due to pressure put on him by Joachim Standfest. Throughout the game, Kainz was a dangerous, attacking outlet and if he can continue to be on the same wavelength as Berić, they could help lead Rapid’s title challenge.
#3 Omer Damari – The Israeli striker, who was my player of the round last week, was once again a key component in an Austria Vienna win. Following their first win of the season last weekend against Ried, the Violets came into the game with much more confidence, against a Red Bull side, who are currently toiling. Damari, who showed plenty of enterprise throughout the game, appeared to have André Ramalho’s number from the offset. In fact, the front three of Damari, David de Paula and Marco Meilinger, were all outstanding and outplayed the Red Bull defence. With the score tied at 2-2, Damari lost Peter Ankersen and then skinned Ramalho to go through on goal. The Israeli then showed some great composure by placing the ball past Péter Gulácsi in the Red Bull net, completing a memorable win and getting his fifth goal of the season in the process.
Alan – The Red Bull striker scored twice against Austria Vienna, and continued some impressive form, following a good game against Celtic in the Europa League. The Brazilian-born striker scored a brilliant effort from just inside the box in the first half to open the scoring, and he also temporarily tied the game at 2-2 with a powerful header.
Heinz Lindner – Despite being beaten twice by Alan, of Red Bull Salzburg, Lindner had a more than solid game between the sticks, with the highlight being his save one-on-one with Marcel Sabitzer, with the scores tied.
Andreas Leitner – The Admira goalkeeper had another game to remember as he kept Grödig to a clean sheet with some fine saves. With the final shot of the game, Leitner pulled off a magnificent acrobatic save to deny Philipp Huspek, to earn his side a share of the spoils.
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