Two players acquired just this week, and one crucial returnee, proved the difference for underdogs FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday afternoon. Stefan Bell, Domink Kohr, and and Danny da Costa all collected assists.
Bo Svesson's first win as the coach of the Rheinhessen turned out to be a major upset as the re-tooled Mainz knocked off second-place Leipzig.
|Bo Svensson.||Photo: GEPA Pictures/Oliver Lerch|
Three transfer window transactions kept relegation threatened Mainz in the news this week. Many wondered how a team that shipped out its leading goal-scorer could hope to turn their 2020/21 campaign around. Evidently, by bringing in two excellent role actors from Frankfurt.
Both Danny da Costa and Dominik Kohr were inserted immediately into Bo Svensson's starting XI. Kohr partnered with Leandro Barreiro in midfield while da Costa debuted at right-wing-back. The Nullfünfter shape resembled a 3-5-2. Captain Danny Latzka buttressed strikers Robin Quasion and Karim Onisiwo as the ten.
Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann addressed his persistent issues on the attacking axis by starting both Emil Forsberg and Alexander Sørloth in his own 3-5-2. Tyler Adams came in to play right-wingback, with Angelino moving back and Marcel Sabitzer working behind Dani Olmo and Amadou Haidara as a holding midfielder.
At first it appeared as if the heavily-favored Saxons would cruise to any easy victory. Nagelsmann's crew dictated the flow and tempo with an aggressive start. Withing a quarter of an hour, RB had the 1-0 lead. One of Sabitzer's distance screamers careened directly back to Adams after keeper Robin Zentner's fingertips pushed it to the crossbar. The American finished calmly.
The Pfälzer hosts soon struck back, however. A quality Latza free kick found its way to Kohr, and the debutant in turn set up Moussa Niakhaté for the equalizer in the 24th. The German Red Bulls pulled back ahead within five minutes. Marcel Halstenberg struck home a Dayot Upamecano sure after a number of failed clearances following a corner.
To their immense credit, Svensson's men obstinately refused to let the goal deflate them. Showing tenacity on their own set piece five minutes later, Niakhaté again found the back of the net. Stefan Bell, a player the new coaching staff only recently re-introduced into the first-team, collected the assist this time.
Both teams picked up right where they left off after the restart. Five minutes in the second half, da Costa turned on the jets and carried the ball all the way to the touchline. Though Leipzig keeper Peter Gulacsi might have done better on the play, the newly acquired SGE flanker did extremely well to telegraph a ball to Barreiro's outstretched foot.
Nagelsmann threw on as many substitutes as he could in search of an equalizer, but Zentner proved rock solid down the stretch. Mainz's second win of the season pulls the club up to ten points in 17th place; a huge result that affords them some scant hope in the relegation dogfight.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoff's, Wolfsburg did a masterful job holding off Leverkusen for a much deserved 1-0 victory. Luka Jovic again scored off the bench in Eintracht Frankfurt's 5-1 rout of Bielefeld.
Both Stuttgart and FC Union Berlin missed penalty kicks in their fixtures. As a result, both sides fell 1-2 to their opponents. The VfB lost the Baden-Württemberg derby to Freiburg while Union left Augsburg without any points.