Zerofivers hold on to deserved point at Hoffenheim
Mateta cancels out Demirbay’s early strike – Mainz saved by the woodwork
1. FSV Mainz 05 secured their eighth away point of the season at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Sunday evening. Kerem Demirbay (11’) gave the hosts the lead, before Jean-Philippe Mateta equalised five minutes later in a match that saw the woodwork hit four times.
Sandro Schwarz sent out the same starting XI that faced Eintracht Frankfurt midweek for the clash against Champions League debutants Hoffenheim. Jean-Paul Boëtius had the game’s first effort, forcing a comfortable save from Oliver Baumann from 20 yards. Despite a positive start, Mainz suddenly found themselves behind when Demirbay struck a low-finish on the turn to give his side the lead with their first chance of the game. The equaliser followed minutes later, however, when the ball fell kindly for Mateta to hammer home first time past a helpless Baumann.
An entertaining start to the final game of 2018 and more chances soon followed, Boëtius testing Baumann once more from long range, but not with enough power to cause any trouble. At the other end, Zentner saved well to deny Joshua Brenet, but would have been helpless just moments later when a deflected cross fell to Ishak Belfodil, who just missed the target from six-yards out.
Steven Zuber clipped the crossbar from range, before Robin Quaison forced a brilliant save from Baumann at the other end. The ball then fell to Latza, who only managed to find the side netting with his strike. Brosinski then saved the day with a sliding challenge to block Demirbay on the line, before Hüber rattled the woodwork again with a header. With the game poised to go into the break on level terms, Mateta latched on to a Quaison through ball and slotted past Baumann, but the linesman flagged and the referee blew for offside. 1-1 at the break after a thrilling 45 minutes.
Hoffenheim ramp things up in the second half
As the match entered the final half hour, the hosts increased their pressure in search of a winning goal. Mainz were saved by the woodwork for a third time, when Gentner diverted Belfodil’s effort onto the post. Latza and Brosinski combined at the other end to provide temporary relief to the Mainz defence, but were unable to make it count with a second goal.
Hoffenheim had Schwarz’s men more or less pegged in their own half for the majority of the closing stages, but the visitors were determined to hold on to at least a point after such a strong first-half showing. TSG struck the woodwork for a fourth and final time deep into injury time, but lady luck was shining brightly on the Zerofivers, who held on to a deserved point to end 2018 with 21 points from the opening 17 games.