Mainz fall to Dortmund despite strong second half
Karim Onisiwo hits the post twice as Mainz turn up the pressure in the second half
Mainz 05 fell 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday night, despite a strong effort in the second half. Jadon Sancho scored twice to put the hosts ahead in the first half (17th and 24th minute). Mainz pulled one back late in the game through Robin Quaison, who came on as a substitute.
Sandro Schwarz made two changes to his lineup following the win at home against SC Freiburg last weekend. Alexander Hack replaced captain Niko Bungert, who missed out due to illness, while Karim Onisiwo moved into Quaison’s spot. Schwarz chose to play a 5-3-2, with Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Alexander Hack, and Moussa Niakhaté at the back.
Right from the start, Dortmund had the majority of possession and also had the first chance on net. A cross from Mario Götze fell into the path of captain Danny Latza, who narrowly missed placing it in his own goal (6’). Manuel Akanji was on the receiving end of the resulting corner, but Florian Müller was there to keep it out. Mainz struggled to break through on the counter-attack, leading to many close calls in front of their own net. Müller was forced to make another save in the 14th minute after a cross from Jadon Sancho fell to the feet of Jacob Bruun Larsen. Three minutes later, Müller could do nothing to prevent Sancho from scoring from close distance on a pass into the box from Götze. Onisiwo had the first chance on goal for the visitors, but it was easily dealt with by Roman Bürki (20’).
At the other end, Müller was beaten for the second time just four minutes later as Götze played in Thomas Delaney and his ball across the penalty area found Sancho. The Englishman benefited from a stroke of lack as his shot was deflected by Niakhaté and Müller was unfortunate not to keep the ball out of the net (24’). The visitors won the majority of challenges over the course of the first half but were lacking some composure at the decisive moments. The Zerofivers were fortunate not to concede for the third time in the 31st minute as Brunn Larsen failed to provide the right connection needed to give Dortmund a 3-0 first half lead. The only opportunity Mainz created in the first half fell to Jean-Philippe Mateta, who broke clear and played in fellow striker Onisiwo. However, the Austrian’s clever heel flick hit the outside of the post (43’).
Change of formation leads to spirited second half performance
Sandro Schwarz responded with a half-time substitution as Kunde Malong was replaced by Ridle Baku for the start of the second half. The visitors also changed formation to a 4-4-2 as Gbamin dropped into a deeper role. Mainz created some early chances after this alteration as an Onisiwo cross was met by Mateta. However, Bürki was able to deny the French striker, who was looking to build on his hat-trick last time out against Freiburg (49’). At the other end, Müller was forced into action once more as Marco Reus went close on this occasion (52’). Bürki was forced into his first important save of the match just two minutes later to deny Gbamin from a free-kick (54’). The Zerofivers’ attacking play was much more structured in the second half and the hosts didn’t press Mainz back as much compared with the opening 45 minutes. Quaison came on as Mainz’s second substitute in the 55th minute to replace Mateta as the visitors were struggling to get back into the match. However, Mainz thought they had finally halved the deficit in the 63rd minute as Onisiwo was denied by the post for the second time. After a brilliant move involving several players, the Austrian was denied by the woodwork from six metres out. Onisiwo tried his luck again moments later from long range as Bürki was on hand to tip the ball to safety (65’). The Swiss goalkeeper was on hand once more to deny Gbamin from 20 metres out (68’).
Time started to run out for the Zerofivers who had stepped up in the second half to press Dortmund back. However, Reus could’ve secured all three points for BVB with just nine minutes to go as his return ball fell wide of the onrushing Sancho, who was looking to seal his hat-trick. Instead, Mainz secured the goal their second half performance deserved after some ping-pong in the Dortmund penalty area. Bürki denied Onisiwo’s header and defended the rebound from Hack, but the ball fell kindly for Quaison who calmly halved the deficit (83’). Three minutes later, the visitors created a good chance to steal a point as Aarón Martin’s corner was met by final substitute Anthony Ujah, who couldn’t force the ball over the line after three attempts. Bürki eventually managed to hold on to the ball on the goal-line (87’). Ujah had another bite at the cherry in the final minute of stoppage time as the striker got on the end of a long Hack ball but couldn’t convert the chance.
After a game of two halves, Mainz ultimately fell short of taking points home from Dortmund. The Zerofivers have five matches remaining this season and next up is a home clash with Fortuna Düsseldorf on Easter Saturday. Mainz remain twelve points clear of the relegation play-off place on 33 points.