Frankfurt registered a hard won 2-1 home victory over second place Mainz on Saturday. Mainz, who have been the surprise of this season’s Bundesliga competition, looked Frankfurt’s equal for much of the match but failure to convert key chances and a questionable call from the referee allowed the home side to make off with all three points.
The match was a scoreless deadlock for the first 25 minutes or so with neither side able to create much in the way of an opening. However just on the half hour mark things began to open up. Mainz’ Radoslav Zabavnik who had been shown a yellow in the opening minutes of the match, was nearly red carded for a clumsy tackle on Pirmin Schwegler in the 27th minute. The deadlock was broken just over five minutes later when defender Marco Russ blasted a close range volley into the bottom right corner of the net making it 1-0 Frankfurt.
Moments later Zabvnik was taken off to make way for midfielder Florian Heller allowing Mainz to minimize the danger of going down to ten men while simultaneously shifting to a more attacking posture.
Mainz levelled after Halil Altintop brought down Marcel Risse just inside the 18 and Mainz were awarded a penalty. Andre Schurrie stepped up to the mark and sent the ball straight in past Oka Nikolov to draw the score level with just three minutes left in the half.
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A moment later Mainz’s Malik Fathi collided heavily with Patrick Ochs and Frankfurt were awarded a free kick from outside the box. Georgos Tzavelas took the kick but appeared to slip sending his effort over the wall but wide of the net. Seconds later the first half whistle was blown with the score tied at 1-1.
The second half began with Frankfurt making a pair of substitutions; taking keeper Oka Nikolov off for Ralf Fahrmann and Altintop for Alex Meier. Five minutes later Mainz were awarded a free kick from a good position after Aleksander Vasoki made a dangerous sliding tackle on Andre Schurrie. The kick was taken by Christian Fuchs but deflected off the wall straight into the arms of Fahrmann.
Marcel Risse nearly gave Mainz the lead five minutes later shooting from the right corner of the 18 when perhaps he might have done better to cross the ball in for Adam Szalai who was charging in from the center. Seconds later Szlali was taken off for Sami Allagui. Allagui nearly gave Mainz the lead with his first touch of the ball when he got off a free header from inside the area that went wide of the near post.
Mainz had a close call on the other end just past the hour mark when Patrick Ochs played provider for Benjamin Kohler whose close range effort elicited a heroic save from keeper Christian Wetklo. Mainz won themselves a corner a minute later which was taken by Fuchs and punched away by Fahrmann.
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Allaghui continued to create danger for Frankfurt with his every touch, dancing around three defenders on the edge of the box but sending his 67th minute just wide of the far post. A few moments later Frankfurt took Ioannos Amanatidis off for the Brazilian playmaker Caio.
In in the 74th minute Kirchhoff was yellow carded for a foul on Schwegler and Frankfurt were awarded a direct free kick from just outside the area. Caio stepped up and made a decent effort, finding a chink in the wall but having his shot ultimately deflected away by the keeper. Theofanis Gekas nearly gave Frankfurt the lead a moment later when he found space inside the area, turned and put his shot inches wide of the near post.
Mainz made a final subsitution in the 78th minute sending Lewis Holtby on for Risse. But despite both sides shuffling the decks extensively, the match ticked into its final ten minutes looking as deadlocked at 1-1 as it had in the first half hour.
The compusure of the match shifted when Frankfurt were awarded a penalty in the 83rd minute after a handball was called Kirchhoff inside the box. Replays showed that the call may not have been entirely accurate. But Gekas stepped up to the mark nonetheless and sent the keeper the wrong way as he blasted the ball into the back of the net making it 2-1 Frankfurt.
A few minutes later Tzavellas went down hard on the other end and Frankfurt were forced to defend with only ten men as Mainz launched a corner in the 87th minute. But Fuchs played the ball long and the danger was cleared. After two minutes of stoppage time the final whistle was blown with Frankfurt deservedly taking all three points.