Pros 19.03.2023 — 23:03 Uhr

Onisiwo equalises in the last minute against Freiburg

The Zerofivers remain unbeaten at home in the second half of the season, with the Austria international equalling Robin Quaison’s goalscoring record

Karim Onisiwo equalised for Mainz in the last minute.

Karim Onisiwo secured a 1-1 draw for 1. FSV Mainz 05 in the dying moments of the game against SC Freiburg on Sunday evening. The Austrian profited in additional time from fine work from his strike partner Ludovic Ajorque, who poked the ball through to him at just the right moment. This goal was his 31st in the Bundesliga, equalling Robin Quaison’s goal record for the club. Earlier, Ritsu Doan had profited from a misunderstanding in the Zerofivers‘ defence to put SC Freiburg one ahead. This meant a sharing of the points for the Zerofivers at home after four straight wins, but the team nevertheless remain unbeaten at home in the second half of the season.

Bo Svensson went with the same starting eleven that picked up a point against Hertha BSC eight days ago. With five games in a row unbeaten, the Dane decided for continuity in selection.

Intense start, Ajorque has the ball in the net but it’s offside

The guests only let on that they had played in Europe just a few days ago (knocked out in the last 16 of the Europa League by Juventus on Thursday) in the first few minutes, with Mainz the dominant side. Anthony Caci had the first shot of the game, firing wide of Mark Flekken’s goal from a tight angle (2’). After that the game was a close affair with both teams playing at a similar level. The guests initially had more possession, and in the fifth minute also a good opportunity to take the lead. Following a Freiburg cross, the ball deflected unluckily off Andreas Hanche-Olsen straight to a surprised Kiliann Sildillia completely open in front of Zentner, with Hanche-Olsen making a brilliant recovery tackle to block the shot. A wake-up call for the Zerofivers, who moments later had their first really dangerous moment. Caci curled a ball in perfectly from the left-hand side, with Ajorque rising highest in the box and glancing the ball towards goal where Flekken made a good save to deny him (9’). The entertainment value remained high with both teams looking to get on the front foot. Then, after 18 minutes, 26,800 supporters in the MEWA ARENA were initially on their feet celebrating, having seen Ajorque slide the ball round Flekken and into the back of the net. This joy was shortlived, however, with the Frenchman offside having been played through by Jae-sung Lee.

Following this, there was less chances on goal, but the game remained gripping. Just after half an hour, Leandro Barreiro and Nicolas Höfler chased after a long ball, with the Luxemburg international the quicker player, getting in front of his opponent and losing his footing. Referee Bastian Dankert allowed play to continue with both players having had their arms linked together (28’). Mainz were really in the game, and had the better chances. After 37 minutes, Marcus Ingvartsen curled a freekick towards the top corner from the edge of the box, but yet again Flekken was equal to it. This was the last chance of an exciting first half that was deservedly level at the break.

Doan scores fortuitously, Onisiwo equalises late on

Both teams started the second half at the MEWA ARENA unchanged. The game remained competitive in the middle of the pitch, with both teams fighting hard. The first shot of the second half came from the boot of Höfler after 53 minutes, but it was way off target. After that, a mix-up in the Mainz defence allowed Christian Streich’s men to go ahead. A long ball from Flekken was nodded on unthreatening by Michael Gregoritsch, but a miscommunication between Edimilson and Zentner meant it was not properly dealt with and Doan nipping in between the two before slotting it into the open goal (55’). Stach could have provided an instant reply three minutes later, but he shot over from the edge of the box having been found by Lee (58’). Svensson reacted immediately after this chance, making his first change as Onisiwo replaced Ingvartsen to add impetus upfront. It was Zentner who was called upon next though, saving a brilliant Vincenco Grifo strike from the edge of the box at full-stretch (63’).

The visitors now looked to play the game out smartly without allowing too much defensively. Svensson made a couple more changes in the 67th minute, sending on Silvan Widmer and Aymen Barkok in place of da Costa and Barreiro. With Mainz still not creating many quality chances, the Zerofivers’ head coach made another attacking double change after 75 minutes. This time, Dominik Kohr and Nelson Weiper replaced Minuten Edimilson und Lee. The shape changed to a four-at-the-back, with three men to aim for upfront. Mainz continued to give the ball away too easily in possession, not allowing their teammates time to progress up the pitch. In the 82nd minute, Ajorque began a promising move with a run into the box, but his clever reverse ball into the channel was hit just too hard for Weiper to get on the end of. Four minutes later, Weiper managed to get a shot away in the six yard box following a long throw from Widmer, but he didn’t catch with the ball properly and it was straight at Flekken (86’). It looked increasingly like the Zerofivers were going to run out of time. At the other end, a combination of Bell and Zentner was required to prevent Höler from deciding the game once and for all (87’). Five minutes deep into injury time, just as it looked like there wouldn’t be enough time to find an equaliser, Mainz put one last ball into the Freiburg box. This time, Ajorque shielded the ball brilliantly and played it through to Onisiwo, who finished cooly past Flekken. A 90+6 minute equaliser! It was one final goal at the MEWA ARENA before the international break, with the crowd celebrating ecstatically. With the course of the game and the timing of the goal, it almost felt like a win.

Thanks to a last-minute point, the Zerofivers now have 37 points after 25 games and sit in ninth-place. The next opportunity to add further points will be away at RB Leipzig on 1st April. A week later, the team play at home once again, with a game against Werder Bremen on 8th April.