Mateta completes comeback against Leipzig
Mainz fight their way back from a two-goal deficit against RB Leipzig — Niakhaté scores his debut goal
Mainz picked up a well-deserved point at home against third-place RB Leipzig after a strong performance that saw them erase a 3-1 deficit. After Lukas Klostermann (25’, 32’) and Timo Werner (49’) scored for the visitors, the match finished 3-3 (1-2). Karim Onisiwo nearly helped the Zerofivers draw level just before half-time. But, after going two goals down, it was Moussa Niakhaté, who scored his first Bundesliga goal (67’), and Jean-Philippe Mateta (83’) who sealed the lid on the comeback.
Sandro Schwarz made three changes to the squad that faced off against Hannover last weekend. Daniel Brosinski, Ridle Baku, and Danny Latza started in place of Giulio Donati (injured), Alex Maxim, and Mateta.
Mainz kept up with Leipzig, dominated them for stretches of the match, and even recorded the first real chance on goal. Jean-Paul Boëtius’ shot from distance took a deflection, but Leipzig keeper Peter Guöacsi was there to keep it out (4’). In contrast, the visitors were slow on the counter-attack to start. Unable to create any chances at the other end, it was only fair that the next big chance fell to the Zerofivers. A free kick from Brosinski found the head of Alexander Hack, who placed it just wide (14’). Mainz continued to press and find room down the wings. A cross from Aarón Martin nearly made it to the feet of a waiting Robin Quaison, before being blocked (15’). The Mainz defence was unable to do anything in the 20th minute after a quick counter from Leipzig saw the ball land with Lukas Klostermann, who put it past Flo Müller to give the guests the lead.
A bitter way to go down a goal, but Mainz didn’t let it shake them. The Zerofivers countered just seven minutes later down the right wing. Onisiwo made the run and sent a pass to Quaison, but Marcel Halstenberg slide to keep it out (27’). Leipzig, who had been quiet for most of the half, proved their efficiency in front of goal. Timo Werner passed to Klostermann, who found himself one-on-one against Müller yet again, and chipped it over him for his second of the night. Mainz had to wait until just before half-time for something to celebrate. Latza played it to Onisiwo, who spun around his opponent and put his side on the board with his weaker left foot (43’). The first half finished 2-1.
Werner shocks the crowd, but Mainz don't falter
The Zerofivers came back more determined in the second half, with Mateta coming on for Onisiwo, who was brought off after suffering a concussion. The hosts got the half underway but it was the visitors who struck first yet again. Emil Forsberg was lucky as the ball landed at his feet. The Swede then slipped the ball in to Werner, who shot from close-range to fire past Müller and make it 3-1 to the visitors (49’). Aside from a Brosinski free-kick that narrowly missed the post, Mainz had little to report for a while (52’). Kevin Kampl prevented a promising Mainz counter-attack by fouling Boëtius on the charge. After a slightly idle performance from Mainz for a while, they finally got themselves back in the game during 67th minute, as Moussa Niakhaté slotted home from a corner to make it 3-2. The game suddenly had a new lease of life breathed into it. Six minutes later, Latza was free in front of Gulacsi but failed equalize due to a glancing save from the Leipzig keeper (73).
It was hard to see a noticeable difference between 12th placed Mainz and the Champions League candidates. The visitors were now pushed into a defensive performance. After some great build-up play on the left wing, Latza couldn’t convert Boëtius’ pull-back from 10 metres out (76’). Substitute Maxim set up Quaison, who was unable to beat Gulacsi from a tight angle. The deadlock was shortly broken, however, when Mainz put together a devastating attack. The ball landed at Boëtius‘ feet, who released Mateta at just the right time, who didn’t hesitate before slotting the ball into the corner of the net (83’), 3-3! It was an energetic performance, which the fans could feel in the OPEL ARENA. In the 87th minute, Quaison could have turned the game completely on its head, but his shot was too central and was dealt with by Gulacsi. A minute later, Müller had to punch a shot from Poulsen clear to keep Mainz’s point alive (88’). The last opportunity of the game fell to the visitors, which wins high marks for entertainment value. Leipzig captain, Willi Orban, got a foot on a quick free-kick, but Müller reacted brilliantly to the close-range effort (90+2) to keep the game level. The Zerofivers now have 37 points to their name, thanks to a more than deserved point, with two games remaining.