The 1,300 travelling fans in the away end of the Olympiastadion thoroughly celebrated a result for which they had waited so patiently – an away victory. They raised their scarves high into the capital-city sky for their beloved Mainz team, who came over after the final whistle to thank the fans for their brilliant and loud support during the game, despite there being over 70,000 Hertha fans in attendance.
The away side put a spanner in the works for Hertha who were planning to secure their place in the Bundesliga next season on the penultimate matchday of the season, as the Zerofivers finally picked up another victory on the road in their final away fixture of the season, winning 2-1 at the Olympiastadion. “It was one of the highlights of the season. I’ve played here many times and have never experienced this stadium so full, loud and atmospheric – in both the away end and the home end. It was something special, and you could see after full-time just how important this win was for the team and the fans,” said Stefan Bell.
Bell scores the winner
The centre-back’s late goal secured FSV’s first away victory since last October. Bell’s well-placed header following Anton Stach’s corner won all three points for the Zerofivers in a game which Mainz controlled for large periods and managed to get a deserved win courtesy of our number 16.
“Our team put in a terrific performance. Only one side had the right to win the game, and that was Mainz 05. We dominated Hertha all over the park and only came under a bit of pressure in the final five minutes. I’m very proud of the team, especially given what we had to deal with again today,” commented Christian Heidel after our 13th win of the season.
Since when has that been allowed?
What Mainz had to “deal with again today” was the reason as to why the 58-year-old didn’t agree with the opinion of the Sky reporters and experts after the game, who claimed that the referee made the all the right decisions in the big moments of the game. “It’s a complete puzzle to me how the referee cannot give a penalty even though he went to the screen and clearly saw that Bell had an elbow rammed into his face. Since when has that been allowed? Once again, a clear decision has been incorrectly made! If someone makes contact with your ankle, it’s a penalty. Who isn’t yet aware of that?” Heidel criticised before referencing another moment in the game when a cross into Hertha’s box struck the arm of Lucas Tousart. If that were to have happened somewhere in the middle of the pitch, then a foul would have been given and the player most likely punished with a yellow card.
However, following a review of the evidence, referee Patrick Ittrich wasn’t prepared to give a penalty on this occasion. He did point to the spot in favour of Hertha BSC on the stroke of half-time, though, after going to the screen to check the decision. This came after Moussa Niakhaté made contact with the left foot of Dedryck Boyata from behind in Mainz’s penalty box following a chaotic scene from a Hertha corner in which almost every player on the pitch was pushing, shoving and scrambling for the ball in Finn Dahmen’s box. This makes it understandable why Bo Svensson wished to discuss the fact that such sequences commonly occur at set-pieces with the referee following his decision to award a penalty, for which the Dane received a yellow card. One thing’s for sure, and that’s that Svensson’s side have certainly seen clearer-cut penalties not be awarded to them even after a video check during the season.
Svensson refuses to comment
Svensson’s mood had already been somewhat dampened even before that. Earlier on, Stach had seen his goal rightly chalked off because Leandro Barreiro was offside in the build-up. The referee went on to disallow Karim Onisiwo’s goal because the ball had struck the Austrian’s arm before he found the net. Ittrich also made another correct decision late on in the game as he ruled out Davie Selke’s headed goal due to the clear foul he made on Aarón. However, Svensson refused to comment on the scenes which led to the penalty and to Hertha’s equaliser at his post-match press conference. “I have nothing to say,” he commented.
The head coach, who was happy with his side’s deserved victory, did have a few points of criticism to raise about the performance of his team. “I don’t think we started the game too well. We were surprised by Hertha’s high pressing and were lucky that we didn’t go a goal down early on. We then changed things up a little and got more control in the game after the 20-minute mark, and we started to play better. Overall it was a decent performance,” added the 42-year-old.
We were surprised by Hertha’s high pressing.
Felix Magath also touched on Hertha’s positive start, but then discussed how his side’s performance started to drop which led to Mainz taking the lead through Silvan Widmer following a mistake by Hertha keeper Marcel Lotka. “We became much more passive and let Mainz start to play. They then showed us what a good team they are, picked up their performance and let the ball do the work. We lost control of the game,” explained Magath.
“You have to honestly say that Hertha were the better side in the opening quarter of an hour and stunned us with their pressing. It was a phase of the game which we had to overcome and we managed to do that without conceding. Then we grew into the game, got up the pitch and then began to control things, taking a deserved lead. We were also the better side after the break and were linking up well in possession and in my view, we should have made it 2-1 a bit earlier,” said matchwinner Stefan Bell. “We got the winner from a set-piece, which was also nice. I’m really pleased to have scored the winner and it’s certainly a good feeling.”
Finn Dahmen, who made his first start of the season in Berlin, had no chance of saving Selke’s penalty and otherwise impressed his head coach. “He was very good,” said Svensson. “Finn’s not had much match practice, but he gives his absolute all every day in training and earned the start. We’ve played 35 competitive matches so far this season, and Robin Zentner’s played every minute, so Finn was always going to play today. He shows his quality in training every day.”
Finn was always going to play today.
“We’ve all been frustrated about how few games we’ve won on the road this season, but I think we’ve perhaps even over-performed in terms of home results and then under-performed away from home,” explained Bell. Widmer added that we need to be more confident when playing away, “because we’re often the better side on the day. We need to trust ourselves more, and if we start to do that, I’m sure that we’ll pick up more points on the road next season.”
Season finale against Eintracht
Mainz 05 now have 45 points after 33 games this season, putting them in ninth place. “We’ll train properly once again this week and are hoping to end the season on a positive note with a win against Frankfurt,” said Dahmen. Our Bundesliga campaign ends with the Rhine-Main derby at the MEWA ARENA on Saturday against Europa League finalists Eintracht Frankfurt. A win would take us to 48 points for the season, our best return for six years.