Sturm Graz was crowned the Austrian Football Cup on Sunday. The Styrians celebrated their final 2-0 victory over Rapid in front of 30,000 spectators in Klagenfurt, both goals scored by Manprit Sarkaria (66′, 84′). For Sturm, this is the sixth cup victory overall, and the first since 2018. Rapid, on the other hand, still has to wait for its first title since winning the championship in 2008. It was the 14th victory and so far for the last Hoteldorfer Cup before 28 years.
As expected, Kevin Wimmer slipped into the role of suspended Michael Solbauer in Rapid. The former ÖFB international has played just one competitive match this calendar year – winning the cup quarter-final on February 3 in Wydad – and it was the central defender’s last league appearance in almost eight months. However, Hütteldorf’s defense was stable in the first half, as was Sturm’s. The logical consequence at first was the stark lack of scoring opportunities.
Often long balls forward
Rapid’s most dangerous attack before the break resulted in a solo run by Nicolas Kühn into the general square, the German’s shot was blocked from Pentagon (11 ‘). On the other side, goalkeeper Niklas Heidel saved a header from Emmanuel Emiga on the line, after the video assistant referee assessed that he had not scored a goal (19). Otherwise, Sturm only attracted attention with his harmless long-range shots.
While there was a great atmosphere in the stands, the standard of play left a lot to be desired for the first 45 minutes. In a very intense match, it mainly revolved around duels and second balls before changing teams, both teams sought their rescue more in the long forward pass than in the organized structure of the game.
Immediately after the restart, Sturm switched a gear or two and came very close to taking the lead in the 46th minute. After a blunder by Martin Moormann, Emiga ran towards Heidel on his own, circled the speedy goalkeeper, but allowed himself to rush wide and put the ball in for Sarkaria. Only Murmann was still on goal, the former Austrian could have chosen the corner, but missed from six meters out. Alexander Brass scored the goal in the 54th minute, and Heidl parried a shot from 30 meters with an uncomfortable trajectory with a defensive fist.
A minute later, Hedl misjudged a cross from David Schnegg, but Sarkaria sent the artificial leather over the crossbar. Seconds later, Sturm was awarded a corner, and David Affengruber headed the ball, which had been drawn into the long corner, onto the outside crossbar. In the 63rd minute, Emegha blocked the next player when, after a pass from Brass’s hole, he threw the ball past the goal alone in front of Hedl.
Sarcaria Twin Pack
The looming 1: 0 for Sturm finally came in the 66th minute: after a long shot, Emiga beat Murmann and played for Sarkaria, who passed Wimmer and Orr and smashed the ball under the crossbar. After the goal, Sturm took his foot off the accelerator and switched to counter-attacks that paid off in the 84th minute.
First, Hedl shone with a solid save by Tommy Horvat, when Sarkaria’s subsequent shot was blocked by Moormann, and the ÖFB player was unable to save. In turn, he saved Rapid from an even bigger defeat against Emiga in the 87th minute. Rapid’s first real scoring opportunity in the second half was delayed until the 92nd minute – Roman Kirschbaum hit the outside crossbar. (appa)
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