Mainz defeated in Bundesliga opener in Leipzig
Mateta’s goal early in the second half wasn’t enough – Nebel makes his debut aged 17 and 346 days
Mainz 05 began the club’s 15th season in the Bundesliga with a 3-1 defeat at RB Leipzig on Sunday afternoon. The Zerofivers made it too easy for the hosts, particularly in the first half an hour, when Emil Forsberg (penalty) and Yussuf Poulsen made it 2-0. Robin Zentner, with some help from the woodwork, prevented further damage before half time. After Jean-Phillipe Mateta’s goal at the start of the second half, any hope of taking something from the game was extinguished by Amadou Haidara just three minutes later. Despite an improved second-half performance, Mainz go home empty-handed.
Achim Beierlorzer selected four home-grown players in his starting eleven: Zentner was between the sticks, Ridle Baku played at right-back, Leandro Barreiro lined up in midfield next to captain Danny Latza and Jonny Burkardt was selected in attack. The defence was completed with Jeremiah St. Juste and Moussa Niakhaté in the centre and Daniel Brosinski on the left. Karim Onisiwo, Robin Quaison and Mateta would join Burkardt in having to deal with the Champions League side’s defence.
As expected, the hosts dominated the game from the start and could have scored in the fourth minute. Dani Olmo had a shot from 20 metres and forced Zentner to make a sharp save. Leipzig didn’t have any other clear chances in the first 15 minutes, but the game was predominately played in the Mainz half. Then, in the 16th minute, Barreiro was late and caught Olmo in the penalty area. Forsberg kept his cool and converted the subsequent penalty, slotting it into the right corner as Zentner went the wrong way. RB Leipzig then had the chance to make it 2-0, but Poulsen’s effort went over the bar (18’). The Dane went one better three minutes later: Olmo sent a cross into the box and Poulsen, unmarked, looped a header over Zentner (21’). Mainz had their first real opportunity in the 28th minute as they won the ball high up the pitch and put Brosinski in a position to get a shot away, but his effort, with his weak left foot, sailed over the bar. At the other end of the pitch, Poulsen had another shot on goal but Zentner was able to make the save (29’). The goalkeeper was left helpless after a fine solo run by Forsberg, but the Swede could only find the post. The visitors’ defence was less busy for the rest of the half, but they couldn’t launch any real attacks of their own either. The Zerofivers went into the break with a two goal deficit.
Mateta ice-cool, Haidara restores two-goal lead – Nebel the youngest Bundesliga debutant
There were no changes for the second half, but Mainz emerged much more determined. After less than three minutes, Robin Quaison made a great pass to cut the Leipzig defence open, and Mateta kept cool and beat Peter Gulacsi from ten metres (48’). Instead of using the momentum to get an equaliser, however, Mainz found themselves 3-1 down just three minutes later. Forsberg glided through the visitors’ penalty box before setting up Amadou Haidara to score from close range (51’). Zentner prevented another goal five minutes later when he saved Olmo’s shot from a narrow angle. St. Juste combined with the goalkeeper to block Poulsen once again; Zentner narrowed the angle after the striker went clear on goal, and the defender cleared his effort off the line (64’).
Mainz’s next opportunity came through a Brosinski free kick (73’), shortly after Beierlorzer introduced Jean-Paul Boëtius and Levin Öztunali in place of Quaison and Burkardt. Yet it was Mateta who had the best chance to score the Zerofivers’ second, but the Frenchman cleared the crossbar from four metres out after Brosinski’s cross (77’). The remainder of the game lacked opportunities, but Beierlorzer made two substitutions of note. Niklas Tauer replaced Latza in the 87th minute before Paul Nebel was introduced in injury time. Both made their league debut, with the latter becoming the youngest player to appear for the club in the Bundesliga. Nebel didn’t have chance to change the game, but the youngster, aged 17 and 346 days, wrote his name in history.
On Saturday afternoon (15:30 CEST), Mainz welcome newly-promoted side VfB Stuttgart to the OPEL ARENA in front of 3,400 fans.
RB Leipzig - Mainz 05 (3-1)
Goals: 1-0 Forsberg (17‘), 2-0 Poulsen (21‘), 2-1 Mateta (48‘), 3-1 Haidara (51‘)