"Box presence, energy, flow in the game"
Schwarz: We got what we needed – 3-1 victory after going behind against Cologne with some incredible goals
The three points were extremely important for the team, but the message that the team and the fans sent with this result is just as important. Rouven Schröder later said that 1. FSV Mainz 05 is a sworn community that could accomplish many things. "The spectators reacted very well, completely accepted it, stayed positive when there were setbacks, it was a nice Friday night, as nice as we could have hoped for," said the sporting director after the thrilling 3-1 victory against a strong 1. FC Cologne side.
The coach felt the same and initially had similar positive words for the fans before going in to the match analysis. "Huge compliments to the people in the stadium – the energy that was coming from the stands was outstanding," said the 41-year-old. "The mood shows what people feel about us and we wanted to show them a different side of our game."
Schröder: We really understood the meaning of the game
The sporting director was sure that the team meeting after the loss to Düsseldorf would influence the players. "Such names like Christian Heidel and Jürgen Klopp, the honors, etc. As a player, you get to know how important the club is and how we all fight for success here, I think they may have already given some thought to exactly what Bundesliga football means in Mainz," said Schröder.
The mood can easily change
"We knew that we had to get things right, that we had to produce something different," emphasised Schwarz. It didn’t happen straight away as Cologne were rewarded for their plentiful attacks with a goal from Simon Terodde. "How we dealt with that was great, and the reaction of our fans was remarkable. We had a few difficult moments, we were down but we came back 15 minutes later, and we got the energy that we needed from the fans today."
Following the restart after Cologne’s goal the ZeroFivers showed a resistance spirit. Jean-Paul Boëtius narrowly missed thanks to goalkeeper Timo Horn. That was the start of a thrilling and promising first half. "That's the way we imagined it, the way we play football, getting in between the lines, when it's not going through the middle, then outside, in to the box, energy, flow in the game." How the equaliser came about: Levin Öztunali crossed from the right into the penalty area to Ádám Szalai, who passed it through to Boëtius. The Dutchman took it round Sebastiaan Bornauw in the six-yard box and before tucking it neatly through the legs of the keeper to make it 1-1.
After the change, Mainz relied once again on an outstanding performance from their goalkeeper Robin Zentner to stay in the game, before Robin Quaison then struck an insane goal from all of 30 yards: he took the ball in, three quick steps and a perfect shot from distance that hit the top right corner of the Cologne goal. Then the scene that stunned the opponent. When a ball from Kingsley Schindler hit the arm of Moussa Niakhaté in the penalty area, referee Frank Willenborg refused to check for a penalty. "I can understand the frustration of Cologne completely," said Schwarz. "We were told during pre-season training that the rule is that if the arm posture is above the shoulder then it's a penalty but if you hit it from close range, then there's no clear right or wrong decision," the 05 coach tried to explain. "It feels a lot mor annoying now that we have the video evidence, I can tell them that," commented FC coach Achim Beierlorzer the whole thing.
The Cologne then turned on their attacking power with Jhon Cordoba and Anthony Modeste coming in to the game, Schwarz changed, by contrast, to a five at the back by bringing on an additional defender in Alex Hack. However, the deciding factor in the game proved to be another substitution - Karim Onisiwo. The Austrian had a devastating effect on the now tired FC Cologne defence. After failing to beat Horn with his own strike, he decided to lay it on a plate for Levin Öztunali. And he scored with a shot at the near post to make it 3-1.
"We were passionate and defended well, we had a strong goalkeeper, and the way we dealt with resistance was great, and I’m proud of the way we reacted to going behind," the 05 coach said. "It was great how the crowd treated us, and how the players gave back to them.”