Darmstadt - 1.FSV Mainz 05 saw a 2-0 lead wiped out by SV Darmstadt 98 but still came through to defeat their neighbours 3-2 in a Friday night thriller and kick off Matchday 8 in enthralling fashion.
Goals: 0-1 Bell (15'), 0-2 Malli (24'), 1-2 Heller (27'), 2-2 Sailer (57'), 2-3 De Blasis (64')
Mainz had lost their last two, but started like they meant to put their local rivals, who had been defeated just once this season, in their place. Stefan Bell dominated his markers to rise and emphatically head a Danny Latza free-kick beyond Christian Mathenia, who was equally powerless to prevent Yunus Malli doubling the visitors' lead. The artful forward glided to the edge of the box to receive Yoshinori Muto's pass, his body swerve sent the Darmstadt defence the wrong way before his curling shot arced into the bottom corner for a brilliant sixth goal of a fruitful season.
The hosts showed their resilience in snatching a draw late in last weekend's visit to Borussia Dortmund, and they quickly bounced back again through Marcel Heller, who swivelled and sent a sublime shot looping over Loris Karius to reduce the deficit. Sandro Wagner might have wiped it out all together, but shot wide and then flicked a header straight at a grateful Karius.
Bell might have had a second and Mainz a third early in the second half only for the Darmstadt back four to eventually scramble the ball clear from a set-piece; at the other end, there was no Mainz defender in sight as half-time substitute Marco Sailer surged forward to sidefoot volley Konstantin Rausch's driven cross beyond Karius to level. Mainz responded, though, and when Muto was denied by the sprawling Mathenia, Pablo De Blasis steered home the loose ball, and only a fine Mathenia stop shortly afterwards prevented Muto giving Mainz breathing space en route to a fourth win of the season. They looked like they needed it when, four minutes into added time, referee Florian Meyer pointed to the spot following a foul by Gonzalo Jara on Luca Caldirola, but Wagner blasted his spot-kick high over the bar with the very last kick of the game.
Man of the match
Malli has long been regarded as one of the Bundesliga's best dribblers, but he is now allying his mesmerising skills with the ball at his feet with an ability to make and take goals. It is proving an irresistible combination.
Darmstadt pegged Dortmund back in the closing stages at the weekend, and though they fell short against Mainz, showed the sort of determination and never-say-die attitude that could keep them up this season.
- With 12 goals in 2015, Malli is the most prolific Bundesliga midfielder this year.
- Heller now has four goals this season, more than in his previous 33 Bundesliga outings over two top-flight campaigns.
- Both teams have now conceded eight times in the second half this season.
- Only 31 kilometres separate the two teams' city centres.
Darmstadt: Mathenia - Garics, Sulu, Caldirola, Junior Diaz - Niemeyer (Vrancic 74'), Gondorf - Heller, Rausch (Stroh-Engel 82') -Rosenthal (Sailer 46') - Wagner
Mainz: Karius - Brosinski, Bungert, Bell, Jara - Baumgartlinger, Latza - Jairo, Malli (Moritz 90'), De Blasis (Niederlechner 90') - Muto (Balogun 83')