Match reviews 11.03.2023 — 18:05 Uhr

Ajorque stunner rescues a point at Hertha

A poor first half for Mainz was followed by a massive improvement after the break. Zerofivers are now unbeaten in five games

Ludovic Ajorque got the equaliser in the capital.

1. FSV Mainz 05 drew 1-1 away against Hertha BSC on Saturday afternoon. Ludovic Ajorque’s stunning goal in the second half cancelled out a controversial Jessic Ngankam penalty for the hosts.

Bo Svensson made one change to the team that beat Hoffenheim last week. Anton Stach came into the side for Dominik Kohr. Karim Onisiwo made his return from injury and took his place on the bench instead of Delano Burgzorg.

Hertha on top in the first half

Hertha had the first dangerous moment in a hard-fought game in the capital. Jessic Ngankam got down the right-hand side and crossed for Florian Niederlechner, who failed to get on the end of the ball at the back post. The hosts, who had won their last two home games going into this one, were on top in the first period. The first shot on goal came in the eighth minute through former FSV man Suat Serdar, though he couldn’t trouble Robin Zentner. In the 15th minute, Serdar volleyed a Lucas Tousart cross wide, however VAR advised referee Benjamin Cortus to check a replay, despite no claims for a penalty around the ground. Leandro Barreiro was adjudged to have handled the ball before it came to Serdar, a harsh decision. Jessic Ngankam stepped up and sent Zentner the wrong way to make it 1-0 (18’).

The Zerofivers failed to threaten in the first half, with the best opportunity a Stach half-volley that was easily caught by Oliver Christensen in the Hertha goal (24’). The Old Lady were also not particularly dangerous in the remainder of the first period, and were fortunate to not have Tolga Cigerci sent off for a rough tackle on Barreiro in the midfield. Nevertheless, the home side deserved their lead at the break.

Brilliant equaliser by Ajorque

Svensson brought on Aarón for Anthony Caci for the second half. Just like at the start of the game, Hertha had the first opportunity of the half. A Cigerci corner was flicked on by Tousart to the back post, but the ball was slightly behind Niederlechner and so he couldn’t get on the end of it (50’). Shortly afterwards, the visitors were back on level terms. Da Costa crossed into the box, Ajorque headed it to Barreiro and he gave it back to the Frenchman. The winter signing then fired the ball into the top corner past a helpless Christensen from just outside the area (57’). While Ajorque was celebrating his second goal for the club, Svensson made three changes, introducing Widmer, Aymen Barkok and Onisiwo for da Costa, Jae-sung Lee and Marcus Ingvartsen. These substitutions helped Mainz get more of a grip on the game and for large parts of the second half it looked like the away side would get another goal. One big chance came when Anton Stach headed over an Aarón corner from just a few yards out (63’).

Mainz knocked the ball about the midfield nicely and had more and more decent attacks, including Onisiwo’s acrobatic effort in the 67th minute. At the other end though, Marc Oliver Kempf headed Marvin Plattenhardt’s corner onto the bar (69’). There was another controversial moment in the 70th minute as Kempf caught Stefan Bell in the throat from a free-kick, but nothing was given. Former Mainz boss Sandro Schwarz had his top goalscorer Dodi Lukebakio up his sleeve and unleashed him with 20 minutes to go. The Belgian’s curling effort flew just past Zentner’s far post with a quarter of an hour to play. Svensson’s final change came five minutes later, as he brought Kohr on for Barreiro. This substitution gave Mainz more stability in the midfield. The final chance of the afternoon was for Svensson’s men with three minutes left to play. Stach regained possession in midfield and crossed into the box. Onisiwo won the ball despite a number of defenders near him and tried his luck, only for Christensen to save his shot with his legs. Ultimately, both teams deserved the point after a game of two halves for Mainz. The Zerofivers now have 36 points on the board from 24 games, while Hertha remain in the middle of a relegation battle.

FSV’s next game is at home to SC Freiburg on Sunday, 19th March (19:30 CET).