It was the final act in a dramatic encounter worthy of Broadway as Yoshinori Muto propelled himself into the role of hero for Mainz by scoring a last-gasp equaliser in a thrilling 3-3 draw with FC Augsburg to secure 1. FSV Mainz 05 an invaluable share of the spoils.
In the first half, the Japanese international had already bagged a brace to put his side 2-0 in front, but it was with his final effort that the 23-year-old wrote his name in the history books. In his first 11 Bundesliga matches, Muto has scored more often in than any of his Japanese predecessors including former record-holder Shinji Kagawa, who scored ‘just’ five in his first 11 appearances.
"Six goals in 11 games is a good return so far," said Mainz head coach Martin Schmidt after Saturday's edge-of-your-seat encounter. However, a three-goal haul appears to have done little to quench the thirst of the club's top goalscorer. "I'm absolutely delighted, but I'm certainly not satisfied," explained Muto, who picked up a knock in the match. "That didn't hamper me in any way."
Mainz captain Niko Bungert was one of several players to lavish praise on Muto. "When he plays like that, it's incredibly important - he's priceless," said Bungert, who highlighted Muto's positional play, adding that “being able to finish that chance so coolly in the dying stages, despite the pressure that's being put on him, that's pure class."
Cool and calculated
Asked about the commendations from his colleagues, Muto was quick to credit the performance of the collective. "I wanted to set an example even in the 90th minute, but we also showed great morale as a team," After two back-to-back league defeats, Mainz will now be hoping to pick up some momentum off the back of the six-goal thriller, a draw which may feel like more of a win.
However, Muto, the second Japanese international after Noahiro Takahara to score a Bundesliga hat-trick, also felt one point was not enough at the end of 90 minutes. "It would have obviously been better if I had scored four goals and we had won 4-3," said the 23-year-old. Mainz's new No.9 cannot be too displeased with how he has settled in Germany's top flight considering he is scoring at a rate of once every four shots.
Hot on the heels of Okazaki
In Augsburg, three of those hit the back of the net, including Mainz's only two efforts in the opening 45 minutes. "He was ruthlessly efficient," claimed Schmidt. "He'll receive a lot of praise, but we have to ensure that he stays true to his work and end product." The head coach seemingly has nothing to worry about though. "I've got to develop further and improve," admitted Muto, who now has four goals in two games after ending his six-game scoring drought last weekend. "Hopefully that involves me scoring more goals."
Should that be the case, Shinji Okazaki's record 15-goal haul in the 2013/14 campaign could be in danger, but while his goals could prove the difference for his side in 2015/16, Muto's personal success remains his second priority at present. "I'm definitely not satisfied just because I scored three goals as we still couldn't get the win," concluded Muto. "I hope that next time we end up winning the game."
Maximilian Lotz reporting from Augsburg