Sparta won and advanced to the next round in UCL
Sparta had a difficult task in the second game of Champions League against Rapid. Spartans must score two more goals than the Austrian team to step forward to another round, after the loss 1-2 in Vienna. Sparta played a fantastic game in Letná and won 2-0. Successful scorers were Karlsson and Pešek.
Sparta’s coach Pavel Vrba made two changes in the starting line-up compared to the first match. Karlsson and Pešek got a chance while in the first game they started on the bench and came into the pitch in the second half. On the other side, Rapid started without Hofmann, Ljubicic, and Knasmüllner who scored two goals in Vienna.
Sparta started the match actively. The first interesting moment came in the 15th minute when Strebinger fouled Pešek inside the penalty area. Rapid’s goalkeeper received a yellow card from the referee and Karlsson scored from the following penalty kick. He sent a ball to the opposite side as Strebinger chose. Spartans went into a lead 1-0.
The home team could add a second goal from the promising chance when Karlsson went inside the open penalty area from the side while he was looking for his teammates to pass the ball. However, he did not find anyone.
Michal Sáček did a nice dribbling through Rapid’s defense in the 46th minute, but he lost the ball after a tackle from one of the defenders. The ball went directly to Wimmer who almost scored an own goal.
The first half finished with a score of 1-0. There were not many chances, but Sparta was dominating in all aspects of the game while Rapid did not even make a single shot.
Rapid changed the style of their play in the second half while they started with a high pressing.
Sparta had a huge chance in the 65th minute when Polidar found Hložek with a precious pass. He shot from the first touch and hit the top post. It was the biggest chance in this game until that time.
Karlsson did not hit the ball as he imagined and missed from a good position six minutes later.
Ladislav Krejčí passed a ball inside the penalty area where Hložek did not shoot, only touched the ball and Jakub Pešek did not miss in a great opportunity and scored the goal in the 81st minute, 2-0 for Sparta.
If Rapid wanted to think about extra time, they needed to score a goal. The Austrian team started to play actively and put Spartans under pressure. Petrovič stayed alone close to Nita and sent a dangerous shot in the 85th minute. However, the Romanian goalkeeper was ready and made a brilliant save.
Pešek could finish the additional time in a great way. He was going alone to Streibinger, but the Austrian goalkeeper read his move and took the ball from under his legs.
Rapid did not create any other bigger chances during the final pressure. The game finished 2-0 and Sparta qualified to the third qualifying round in Champions League. Spartans will face AS Monaco there.
Sparta’s coach Pavel Vrba: “There were two important factors on our side today: discipline and sedulity. We were patient and waiting for our chance, when it came, we took advantage of it and scored a goal. There was only one difficult moment in defensive for us. I think all players who came in during the game, increased the tempo of the match. This game showed there is a huge strength in our team. I am really happy about this result.”
AC Sparta Prague – SK Rapid Vienna 2-0 (1-0)
Goals: 16. Karlsson (pen.), 81. Pešek. Yellow cards: Dočkal, Wiesner – Strebinger, Wimmer. Referees: Madden – Stewart, Roome (all from Scotland).
Sparta: Nita – Wiesner, Štetina, Hancko, Höjer (62. Polidar) – Karlsson (77. Krejčí), Pavelka (34. Sáček), LK37, Dočkal, Pešek – Hložek.
Rapid: Streibinger – Stojković, Greiml (59. Dibon), Wimmer, Ullmann – Arase (78. Schick), Schuster, Petrovič (86. Auer), Grüll – Fountas, Kara (78. Knasmüllner).