Draw against Gladbach – Adler shines in added time
First-class performance in second half goes unrewarded
Mainz 05 missed a chance to leapfrog VfL Wolfsburg and leave the Bundesliga’s relegation places on Easter Sunday with a goalless draw against Borussia Mönchengladbach. The Zerofivers would have deserved three points at the end of matchday 28, but were missing that final touch to score an elusive winner. However, Mainz were lucky in added time at the end of the match as René Adler made an exceptional stop against Josip Drmic. Sandro Schwarz switched back to a 4-3-3 against Borussia, with Pablo De Blasis, Levin Öztunali and Emil Berggreen playing up front. In addition, Adler returned to play between the sticks after a long time out injured.
A first half with high intensity developed in a buzzing OPEL ARENA, but chances were initially scarce. The guests had the first chance of the match after ten minutes when Patrick Herrmann passed back to Raffael, whose shot went wide of the left post. The Zerofivers’ first chance came through Stefan Bell seven minutes later. Yann Sommer was able to deal with the defender’s powerful effort from 30 metres out (17’). The Zerofivers then started to get a better grip on the game and had another chance to take the lead at the half-hour mark. Giulio Donati lobbed the ball over to De Blasis, who laid it off to Danny Latza, but the resulting shot went just over the crossbar. Shortly after, the Zerofivers were lucky that Donati was able to block a volley from Gladbach’s Oscar Wendt after a cross from captain Lars Stindl (32’). A curling effort from Stindl seven minutes later missed the target by quite some distance (39’). On the other side of the pitch, Sommer dealt with an Öztunali shot three minutes before the break after being set up by Suat Serdar (42’). Thorgan Hazard could have sent the guests into the lead on the counter as he was one-on-one with Adler, but tried to pass it instead of shooting himself and so the 30,173 spectators were left with no goals as the teams headed into the changing rooms.
Zerofivers pressure Gladbach, but can’t score winner
Both team started the second half with no substitutions, but Mainz switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation. De Blasis had a huge chance to score the first goal of the game early in the second period after being played in by Serdar, but Sommer was able to palm away the ball and Vestergaard made a desperate clearance to save Gladbach (48’). Bell had a headed effort soon after, but could only find the side-netting (49’). Danny Latza had the next chance in a great spell for the hosts, but headed over the bar after a cross came in from De Blasis (55’). Sommer came to the rescue for Gladbach again and kept the game 0-0, stopping Jean-Philippe Gbamin’s direct free kick. The biggest chance of the game came just after the hour mark. Alexander Hack headed the ball from yet another corner and Sommer got a hand to the ball, sending it flying into the underside of the crossbar, from which the ball rebounded, but never crossed the goal line. It was very unlucky for the Zerofivers, who were searching for a deserved opening goal. Almost out of nowhere, the guests almost took the lead after 72 minutes, when the Mainz defence couldn’t cope with Stindl and substitute Drmic.
The game went into the final stages still goalless, but there was still action in both boxes. Substitute Gerrit Holtmann showed great skill in the 88th minute when he went on a solo run, beat Gladbach defenders and set up Berggreen in front of goal, but Berggreen’s first-time shot was blocked. It would have been another well-earned goal. Adler was forced into two saves in added game. Firstly, he saved an effort from Herrmann in a one-on-one (90+1’). The Zerofivers had more to thank him for two minutes for his next save when a back pass from Anthony Ujah to the Mainz goalkeeper could have had fatal consequences. Drmic ran on to the ball 30 metres out from goal, where Adler was able to prevent a goal with a slide tackle, allowing Mainz to take at least a point from the game. The Zerofivers now have 26 points after 28 matchdays. Mainz will next play FC Köln away from home next Saturday (KO 15:30 CEST).