1. FSV Mainz 05 defeated RB Leipzig 3-0 at the OPEL Arena to climb out of the relegation play-off position on Sunday afternoon. A first-half penalty by Pablo De Blasis and second half goals from Alexandru Maxim and debutant Bote Baku capped off a memorable afternoon.
The win takes the Zerofivers above Freiburg and Wolfsburg in the race for survival while Leipzig continue to look over their shoulder with Eintracht Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Borussia Mönchengladbach all within striking distance of the Red Bulls.
Leipzig had two great chances to take an early lead. Baku’s loose back pass was picked up by Ademola Lookman, who found Yussuf Poulsen but the Danish striker couldn’t steer his shot on target.
Naby Keita then sent Timo Werner through on goal, rounding Rene Adler but Alexander Hack got back to make a great clearance to save a certain goal. Mainz had a couple of penalty shouts denied after Yoshinori Muto and Stefan Bell went down in the area as the hosts slowly got into the game.
Keita cut across the edge of the area and shot wide but Mainz’ persistence at the other end paid off. Lukas Klostermann fouled Muto just outside the area but the penalty was given, Pablo De Blasis stepped up and coverted despite a touch from Peter Gulácsi.
Good combination play between De Blasis and Muto resulted in Baku having a shot deflected wide before Bell missed the target. Mainz were growing in confidence, largely dominating the game with a vocal home support spurring them into a 1-0 half-time lead.
Jean-Philippe Gbamin was providing driving runs from midfield and had a shot deflected to begin the second-half. Bell elbowed Poulsen in the head as they jumped for a high ball, the referee consulted VAR but no penalty was given.
Daniel Brosinski’s cross was cleared to Diallo who saw his shot blocked as the hosts pressed for a second goal. Gbamin and Muto then combined with Gbamin’s shot saved before another Brosinski cross was cut out by Gulácsi.
Diallo then went on a surging run down the left wing, beating Willi Orban before crossing to Gbamin whose shot was saved. Ralph Hasenhüttl had to react and he brought on Bruma and Jean-Kevin Augustin for Lookman and Poulsen.
Bruma was immediately involved, setting up Kevin Kampl who shot wide before Sandro Schwarz brought on Gerrit Holtmann for Levin Öztunali.
A clearance from Hack released Holtmann on a fast break but Mainz failed to capitalise. Werner attempted to affect the game but was continually denied by Hack who was having a monster performance.
Baku released Holtmann once again and Nigel de Jong produced a good tackle on Bruma. Karim Onisiwo replaced De Blasis who came off to a standing ovation.
With the game getting stretched Brosinski found Holtmann who just missed the top corner before Alexandru Maxim replaced de Jong.
It didn’t take long for the Romanian to get involved. Hack made a vital clearance with Keita about to send Augustin through on goal, Holtmann’s cross took a touch off Muto before Maxim stroked home from the penalty spot.
Onisiwo had a shot blocked after nice work from Muto before the game was capped off in memorable fashion. Debutant Baku raced clear and slotted past Gulácsi, the youngster could hardly contain himself as he ran to the corner flag before getting mobbed by his teammates.
Keita still had time to get sent off in added time with a late challenge on Baku earning him a second yellow card. It was an afternoon to forget for Leipzig and Hasenhüttl whose 100th Bundesliga game as manager ended in a 3-0 defeat.
Leipzig have now lost three and drawn one of their last four Bundesliga games with Hasenhüttl running out of answers. The frontline wasn’t very effective with or without the ball with Lookman and Poulsen looking confused.
The visitors failed to get enough quality ball to Werner, but when they did he was shut down by Hack. Leipzig host Wolfsburg next weekend and failure to win could be catastrophic for Hasenhüttl and his side.
Mainz will be wondering where these sorts of performances have been. Muto’s return was timely with his energy and link up play sorely missing, Hack was unbelievable stopping Werner time and time again, but the game will be remembered for Baku’s performance and debut goal.
The 20-year-old almost endured a horror start but his wayward back pass went unpunished. He then grew into the game, became more confident and capped it off with a great goal before the Mainz players, manager and bench went to share the moment.
A tough trip to Dortmund awaits Mainz before closing out the season back at home against Werder Bremen. The relegation scrap will go down to the wire and the Zerofivers are not out of danger just yet, but victory this afternoon gives them what could be an extremely vital three points.
By Matthew Marshall.