“Why didn’t he go check?”
Beierlorzer critical of referee and VAR following 2-1 defeat in Augsburg – missed call not an excuse
Achim Beierlorzer’s criticism of the referee was not meant to shift the blame from Mainz 05’s disappointing performance during the first half of the match against Augsburg, as the head coach made clear in the aftermath of Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to FCA. It was Beierlorzer’s first loss as head coach of the Zerofivers. “To lose the match in that manner is incredibly bitter. Overall, it was a deserved victory for our opponents, but it’s hard to live with the referee’s decision,” Beierlorzer said.
On Saturday afternoon, referee Markus Schmidt called a penalty for Augsburg in the 64th minute, which former Zerofiver Florian Niederlechner stepped up and converted. Augsburg’s Ruben Vargas dribbled into the Mainz penalty box, with Kunde Malong hot on his heels. Kunde challenged for the ball, and got a touch on it before Vargas appeared to trip and fall in the area. Schmid initially whistled for a free-kick, before VAR reviewed the scene and informed the referee that it was a penalty. Beierlorzer criticised the fact that “the referee did not go and review the incident himself to see whether or not it was a foul. After all, we were dealing with a potential penalty, which had a massive impact on the result of the game. If he had taken a second look at the situation and had played football himself, he would have seen that it was never a penalty. I’m not just saying that because we lost today,” added the 52-year-old.
“We will work on fixing our own mistakes, but the question remains: why didn’t he go review the scene himself? If he were a footballer, then he would have seen that it was never a penalty and reversed his decision,” Beierlorzer said. “If that had happened, then we would have had a fairer game, which was the whole point of bringing in VAR.”
Too passive during the first half
In any case, it was a tough loss for the Zerofivers to accept. "It must be said that we were completely asleep for the entire first half. We allowed Augsburg way too many chances and did nothing to stop any of their runs behind our defence. It could easily have been 3-1 to Augsburg at half time – if we had lost the game in that manner, we could have accepted it and moved on,” Beierlorzer said. The head coach added that he couldn’t explain his side’s inability to deal with Augsburg’s long balls. “Before the game, we made sure to tell them that that’s where Augsburg’s strength lies. We weren’t aggressive enough. We lined up with five at the back in order to have that defensive stability. But, that failed to improve even after we took the lead,” Beierlorzer said.
After a defensive error from Levin Öztunali led to Augsburg having a chance on an open goal early on, Öztunali redeemed himself by finishing off a well-worked counter-attack down the other end to hand Mainz the lead. Martin Schmidt’s side continued to create chances for themselves, with Marco Richter eventually netting the equaliser. At half time, Beierlorzer made the decision to switch to a back four, which helped bring more stability to the Mainz defence, as Augsburg had very few chances on goal during the second half. But, a lack of efficiency in attack prevented Mainz from adding another. As time ticked by, it looked as though the match would end in a draw – until the aforementioned penalty.
“If a team fails to use their chances and doesn’t win as a result then that’s down to a lack of quality on the day from Augsburg. That’s something that’s happened before. But, at the end of the day, we lost because of the decision to call that a penalty,” said Beierlorzer. “I have a responsibility to address that topic. That has nothing to do with the fact that I will also work on what went wrong with my players. I won’t tell the team that they played a great game, but to have VAR fail in such a manner is unacceptable.”
Beierlorzer added that the Zerofivers will continue to work on those things that “have defined our last two matches. That includes being much stronger in the tackles and being more aggressive. We failed to show either of those things against Augsburg. Maybe it’s down to having played an intense derby on Monday night, but I don’t want to make any excuses. We need to be able to deliver strong performances and maximum effort every week.”