“Just a great sport”
It was a great final game of the season in the OPEL ARENA, full of emotion and excitement. Mainz beat TSG Hoffenheim 4-2 at home.
A tearful Niko Bungert described his send off from the Mainz fans as too much for one person, and the events that then unfolded were almost too much for one game. Klaus Hafner also left the club after 30 years as the stadium announcer, with Rouven Schröder leading the send off for six Mainz players who are leaving the club. Mainz came back from 2-0 down to beat TSG Hoffenheim 4-2, with Sandro Schwarz saying “It’s just a great sport,” after the game.
The Mainz head coach was one of the many in the stadium with tears in his eyes, but his side still did their job despite the many farewells and emotional scenes. René Adler, Giulio Donati, Gaetan Bussman, Jannik Huth and Emil Berggreen left the club, with sporting director Schröder saying: “It was important for us all as a club. We always talk about goals and assists, but there are so many important players in the squad who are important parts of Mainz 05. They have to get the same reception.”
Bungert almost signed off with a goal
It was obvious that Bungert’s departure after 11 years at the club was going to be a big part of the day. In the 88th minute, the captain tried a scorpion kick towards goal that would have made it 3-2, but the keeper made the save. If that had gone in, the already-cooking arena would surely have boiled over. The hit was reminiscent of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and the players on the bench coined the name “Zlatan Bungert.” “I think that everyone here would have just lost it, and I don’t know if the ref would have been able to blow up for it again. It would have been awesome,” said Sandro Schwarz.
Highlights both on and off the pitch to conclude the season
Alongside saying goodbye to Bungert, the 05ers fans enjoyed a thrilling climax to the season as two strong, evenly matched sides produced an entertaining match of football. Visitors Hoffenheim appeared to be cruising after taking a two goal lead into half-time. The hosts were not clinical in front of goal in the first half but the match took a decisive turn in their favour early in the second half. TSG’s Christoph Baumgartner was sent off after picking up his second yellow card and the visitors were forced backwards by a resurgent Mainz side looking to get back in the match. Daniel Brosinski scored from the penalty spot after a Video Assistant Referee review before Jean-Paul Boëtius thought he had marked his strong performance with a equaliser. The Dutchman’s initial effort was, however, ruled out after a VAR review found a handball in the buildup. Boëtius stayed cool and focused, going on to score twice before Jean-Philippe Mateta completed the turnaround with a fourth goal in stoppage time.
“All about development”
“It was exceptional,” said Schwarz. “We wanted to give the players the best send off possible and to end the season in the best way possible and we managed to achieve exactly that.” It was clear to see that the 05ers made the extra man count over the course of the second half. “However, you have to play like that every now and again when a team is forced to defend so deep on the pitch. We did a superb job. It is all about development when you are given the ball and go on to score four goals. We’ve scored 15 goals in our last four home matches of the season. That is simply good and leads to spectacular matches.” Schwarz’s players gave everything they had right up until the last minute and didn’t falter in the final matches of the season. This was evident with the goal celebrations against Hoffenheim on Saturday, which resembled Bundesliga survival rather than a 12th place finish.
“We’re extremely proud and have the feeling we could continue to play. We are currently in a good rhythm and that will spur us on for next season,” added Schröder. “In the closing stages of this campaign, we have definitely shown that we have a good team, a top head coach who has shown that we are currently going in the right direction. At the same time, you have to admit you there are times when you will lose. Nevertheless, you gave the feel that the team can easily put negative results behind them, play with passion and give everything they have. That was the best possible way to advertise Mainz 05 and it gives us the task to build on this for next season. It certainly won’t be easier but our self-confidence will also be higher.”