Zerofivers secure point in Cologne – Quaison misses last-gasp opportunity
Donati shown two yellow cards, Mainz denied twice by the woodwork
Mainz 05 secured a point on Saturday afternoon with a 1-1 draw against Köln after a thrilling 90 minutes plus seven minutes of added time and so preserved the gap over the relegation places. Pablo De Blasis (50’) equalised after Jonas Hector sent Köln into an early lead (7’). Robin Quaison had an opportunity to score a last-second winner in added time, shortly after Giulio Donati was dismissed by the referee. Sandro Schwarz made one change to the team which drew 0-0 with Borussia Mönchengladbach last week. Leon Balogun returned to the starting XI at centre-back alongside Alexander Hack, taking the place of Stefan Bell, who suffered a dead leg.
The guests had the first chance of the match after Köln made a mistake in their build-up play. Suat Serdar set up Levin Öztunali, who was unable to finish past Köln goalkeeper Timo Horn (5’). While the Zerofivers missed an opportunity to score an early opener, the hosts were able to use their first opportunity and scored. Bittencourt crossed the ball in and Germany international Hector headed home past René Adler from eight metres out to give Köln an early 1-0 lead (7’). The game remained open after the goal and Adler prevented a further goal from Yuya Osako after 16 minutes. On the other end of the pitch, Serdar missed the target from 20 metres out (17’) and a Daniel Brosinski free kick hit the Köln wall (22’). The Zerofivers’ biggest opportunity to equalise came five minutes before the break, when De Blasis played a diagonal pass to Giulio Donati, who crossed the ball across the face of goal, where Berggreen latched onto the cross, but narrowly missed the target (40’).
Donati crosses in, De Blasis says ‘thank you very much’
Despite coming out of the break trailing by a goal to nil, the Zerofivers didn’t seem at all resigned and some beautiful play saw a quick second-half equaliser. Danny Latza turned the game with a cross to Donati. De Blasis was on the receiving end of the cross and timed his header perfectly to convert the chance and the score stood at 1-1 after 50 minutes. The Köln players knew that only three points would help them survive the relegation battle Osako set up Hector seven minutes after De Blasis’ goal, but Alex Hack was able to clear Hector’s first-time strike three metres in front of the goal line (57’). Serdar missed another opportunity from 20 metres out six minutes after that (63’). Adler then made a save to deny former Mainz player Christian Clemens a goal (65’). The action in the second half was very back-and-forward, with both teams going all out for the win. Latza set up substitute Robin Quaison in the 73rd minute, who shot on goal, but the ball struck the bottom of the left upright. The Mainz number one was then required to make a save against Köln substitute Claudio Pizarro. Adler made a world-class save to prevent the Peruvian’s header from 11 metres out hitting the back of the Mainz net (75’).
The Zerofivers had the more promising of the chances in the match’s incredibly exciting closing stages. Firstly, Timo Horn saved another Robin Quaison effort (79’) and Mainz should have made it 2-1 in the 85th minute with a double chance. Timo Horn made a superb save to save the first placed shot from Levin Öztunali and Latza’s powerful shot from 16 metres out struck the woodwork (86’). It was seriously unlucky for the Zerofivers. The seven minutes of added time could not have been more tense or exciting. Initially, Adler prevented a shot from distance from Köln and then Donati was sent off the pitch after being shown a second yellow card by the referee. However, a winner still could have come for Mainz and a win would not have been undeserved. Then, in the very last second of the match, Quaison had an absolutely huge opportunity for a last-gasp winner. After playing a one-two with Karim Onisiwo, the Swede was one-on-one with Horn five metres out from goal, but shot right at the keeper, so the spoils were shared in the end. Mainz’s six-point advantage over Köln and the automatic relegation zone was therefore preserved. However, Wolfsburg pulled away in the table with a 2-0 win over SC Freiburg on Saturday afternoon.