A scrappy match at the Mewa Arena looked to be headed Hertha Berlin’s way after Luca Tousart’s first half header, but late, late drama handed Mainz a share of spoils and moves the Nullfünfer a point behind both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
With practically the last kick of the match, Anthony Caci fired in an equaliser to stun the visitors. In what we hope will become a regular feature, we take a closer look at what can be taken away from the Bundesliga’s Friday night match.
Last-minute madness in Mainz!
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) September 16, 2022
1. Almost a happy homecoming for Sandro Schwarz
It was very nearly a happy homecoming for Hertha coach Sandro Schwarz as he returned to the club where he spent six years as a player and four years in charge of Mainz II and the first team. He has readily admitted that being sacked back in 2019 hit him hard and it took a while to get over it, but he very nearly left with three points as his Hertha Berlin side went within seconds of a 1-0 win.
“We put on a very good performance in the first half” Schwarz said at the final whistle.” We were very brave and very consistent in our defensive stance. In the second half, the big problem was that we got into the wrestling match. We failed to put the lid on it. To concede a goal with the last action feels brutal.”
2. Mainz’s home form at Mewa Arena……’Meh’
This is the third match this season that Mainz have failed to win at home, and it was only thanks to the dramatic late heroics of substitute Anthony Caci that it wasn’t a third successive home defeat. After a previous 3-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen and a goalless draw with Union Belin, at least they scored this time.
Bo Svensson somehow has to turn the form his side are showing away from home into performances at home. The fans will continue backing the team, but they want to go home at the end celebrating a win, not a rescued point.
3. Mainz front three ineffective
The ineffectiveness of Mainz’s attack was one of the main reasons they struggled against Hertha and until the 94th minute, there was little danger to the Hertha backline. Indeed, when Robin Zentner advanced in desperation at the death, he looked the more dangerous that the players tasked with creating the goals.
Karim Onisiwo hardly had a sniff, but he wasn’t exactly bombarded with service from either Angelo Fulgini or Jae-Sung Lee. The absence of Jonathan Burkardt was sorely felt (but maybe not as sorely felt as his injured foot).
4. Hertha front three effective
Whereas the front three of Mainz had a torrid night, the Hertha front three of Dodi Lukebakio, Chidera Ejuke and Wilfried Kanga continue to show promise. While the goals aren’t exactly flowing right now, they show enough effort and promise to indicate that they are on the way.
Ejuke turned provider for the opening goal when he picked out Lucas Tousart with a cross, which the French midfielder headed home. Kanga and Lukebakio were more effective in the first half, but the trio show pace, trickery, and dynamism. The goals are missing, but they will surely come. Patience Hertha fans.
5. Marvin Plattenhardt lucky not to see red
When referee Frank Willenborg was advised by the VAR team in the Kölner Keller to review the yellow card he had just dished out to Hertha full back Marvin Plattenhardt in the 48th minute, it seemed inevitable he was change it to a red card.
Plattenhardt had caught the ankle of Edmilson Fernandes without great intent, but it was reckless and could have led to a more serious injury than it did. Willenborg initially awarded a yellow card, but as is so often the case the replays made it look so much worse that at live speed.
The referee however stuck to his original decision. Plattenhardt was substituted seven minutes later. A lucky escape!