League title within Bulls’ roar again

Rapid Vienna fans were left frustrated as their team suffered a bitter home defeat against Red Bull Salzburg (RBS) yesterday (Sun).Neither of the teams who clashed in front of 17,500 supporters – among them former Rapid star Erwin Hoffer, Austrian national team coach Dietmar Constantini and ORF presenter Armin Assinger – at the sold-out Gerhard Hanappi Stadium in Vienna managed to create significant danger to their opponents’ goal in the first half.Hamdi Salihi – with 17 league goals Rapid’s top scorer this season – struggled against the rock-solid man mountains of Rabiu Afolabi and Ibrahim Sekagja in the away team’s centre back. Fans of both clubs however held their breaths in the 57th minute when RBS keeper Gerhard Tremmel managed to deflect the ball to the crossbar after an overhead kick by Salihi.Rapid’s Steffen Hofmann, Boris Prokopic, Stefan Kulovits and Yasin Pehlivan were the stronger midfield this afternoon, while Simon Cziommer and Christoph Leitgeb were barely existent in the game of the Bulls.RBS striker Gonzalo Zarate had a bad day as well – before the Argentine found the net out of the blue with a superb attempt from the right-hand side of the edge of the box in the 66th minute. Another shot of Zarate was dragged across the line by his Brazilian teammate Alan seven minutes later.Atdhe Nuhiu’s goal (84’) came too late for the home side to achieve a turnaround in a fast and intense match which was nearly stopped earlier on when dozens of Rapid fans started to throw lighters and other objects at the linesmen after a few disputed decisions by referee Robert Schörgenhofer.Rapid, who won the league 32 times, seem out of the title race while RBS grasped their final chance to challenge leaders Sturm. The team of Franco Foda thrashed SV Mattersburg on Saturday (4-0).On the same day, Magna Wiener Neustadt defeated former leaders Austria Vienna 4-2. To add insult to injury, all of Magna’s scorers – Johannes Aigner, Tomas Simkovic and Alexander Grünwald – played for Austria Vienna before joining the club founded by Austrian-Canadian industrial tycoon Frank Stronach.The Upper Austrian derby between SV Ried and LASK Linz and the encounter of Wacker Innsbruck and Kapfenberg ended 1-1.Meanwhile, Rapid bosses have still not revealed who will coach the team next season. Caretaker manager Zoran Barisic is set to stay as assistant coach. Many fans want the former midfielder to sign a long-term deal as head manager, but club officials must look elsewhere as Barisic lacks the UEFA’s professional management licence.The names of Magna manager Peter Schöttel and ex-Werder Bremen captain Andreas Herzog have been mentioned most often by sport newspapers discussing the issue.Rapid – who recently announced Magna midfielder Guido Burgstaller will join the team this summer – sacked Peter Pacult last month amid rumours that he held talks with Red Bull CEO Dietrich Mateschitz without informing his own club’s board. Pacult became coach of Rapid in 2006. Two years later, the team won the league.The Austrian Bundesliga table after 31 of 36 rounds:Sturm Graz, 55 pointsAustria Vienna, 51Red Bull Salzburg, 50SV Ried, 49Rapid Vienna, 48Wacker Innsbruck, 46Magna Wiener Neustadt, 45Kapfenberg, 34SV Mattersburg, 27LASK Linz, 18