Germany: Bundesliga
1 - 2
(1 - 1)
Hertha BSC
Mainz 05
D. Selke (45)
S. Widmer (25), S. Bell (81)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Hertha miss chance to clinch safety with loss to Mainz

Mid-table Mainz spoiled the party before a nearly sold-out house of 70,000 supporters in Germany's capital on Saturday night. 

Fifteenth-placed Hertha BSC must wait a little longer to confirm Bundesliga football for next season after losing 1-2 to their guests. 
Heading into a big home match knowing that they could celebrate class preservation in front of their own supporters, Germany's "alte Dame" instead lost to FSV Mainz 05 1-2 on Saturday night at the Olympiastadion. While Hertha can still commemorate safety with a Stuttgart loss tomorrow, Berlin's Charlottenburg side isn't quite safe from the relegation playoffs just yet.

Hertha caretaker trainer Felix Magath had to do without set-piece specialist Marvin Plattenhardt (still struggling with muscular issues) and attacker Marco Richter (taken ill with a cold). Central defender Marton Dardai slotted into Plattenhardt's spot while Vladimir Darida took over for Richter on the right flank. With two straight-arrow plug-ins, Magath kept his usual 4-2-3-1 in place. Bo Svensson made no changes to the XI that bested Bayern last week, apart from giving young keeper Finn Dahmen a run-out in goal over normal #1 Robin Zentner.

The capital city hosts were able to make a few pinpricks in the opening quarter-of-an-hour, though nothing especially dangerous materialized out of the Herthaner rush. The Pfälzer guests mostly sat back and absorbed the pressure, playing for a couple of counter chances. Mainz also created little of note in a game devoid of any real chances. The opening goal in the 25th came courtesy of a miscue from Hertha keeper Lotka.

The young prospect--much discussed in the news this week as part of a transfer dispute--produced a howler. FSV attacker Karim Onisiwo threw in a seemingly harmless effort from an acute angle on the right side of the penalty area. Lotka let the tame shot slip though by not closing the angle down properly and getting his body in front of the ball.

In an effort to mount a response, the Charlottenburg hosts couldn't play their attack cycles neatly. The Rheinhessen remained the better team, even having a goal disallowed for offside in the 35th.Just when it appeared as if Mainz were destined to enter the dressing room with a 1-0 lead, Hertha were awarded a penalty at 45+1.

Mainz captain Moussa Niakhaté was adjudged to have clipped Dedryck Boyata's heels in the box, preventing the Hertha skipper from positioning himself for a header off the corner. After a video review and heated protests from the Mainzer bench (Svensson was booked for dissident), Davie Selke took the penalty after a long delay. The oft-maligned striker kept his nerve and slotted home the equalizer from the spot at 45+5.

A physical start to the second half saw both teams largely neutralize one another. Much to the frustration of the guests, a second Mainz goal was chalked off in the 52nd. A powerful finish under the crossbar from Karim Onisiwo didn't count as the Austrian striker used his hand and upper arm to control the ball prior to the tally.

Hertha continued to have problems getting the attacking triangles right. Misplaced passes and laborious builds prevented the hosts from properly pushing for the winning goal. Magath refreshed his attacking ranks in the 67th, bringing on Maximilian Mittelstädt and Ishak Belfodil for rather ineffective offensive actors Suat Serdar and Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Most of the traffic still went the way of the visiting team. Svensson's charges picked up momentum and created a few half chances. Match official Patrick Ittrich waved off a potential penalty for Mainz in the 72nd, ruling that (after video review) Lucas Tousart's arm to the face of defender Stefan Bell was unintentional. Seconds later, Lotka was forced into a strong save when Anton Stach directed a header on target from close range.

Mainz would score a headed-goal that counted nine minutes from the end of normal time. Bell rose above both Mittelstädt and Santiago Ascacibar to meet an Anton Stach corner in the 81st, sinking the finish for a 2-1 lead. The Nullfünfter then calmly controlled the game as the clock ticked down. There wasn't much to see from the Berliners, until young striker Luca Wollschläger nearly made up for his mistake last week by hitting the post in the 88th.

There were some brief celebrations at 90+1 when Davie Selke appeared to have pulled out the equalizer. The goal was nevertheless immediately waved off as referee Ittrich spotted Selke's push-down of marker Aaron Martin before he headed in. Everyone--including keeper Lotka--came forward for one final free-kick at 90+5. Ascacibar's final try at goal nevertheless went wide.

Euro 2024

Bundesliga End of Season Awards

Long reads

Exclusive interviews

Team News