Moussa Niakhate got Mainz off to a winning start to 2021/22 with a 1-0 win at home to RB Leipzig on Sunday.
Mainz 1-0 RB Leipzig
Goals: 1-0 Niakhate (13')
Mainz’s Rückrunde last season under Bo Svensson was nothing short of exceptional, and despite having 11 players unavailable for this opening match, they raced out of the blocks like they'd never been away. It took Niakhate less than a quarter of an hour to put the 05ers ahead - although with a huge helping hand from Leipzig defender Nordi Mukiele, who sliced an attempted clearance following a corner behind him and perfectly onto the head of the Mainz captain standing alone by the post. Die Roten Bullen went on to take control but found chances of their own hard to come by. Apart from a few headers at corners, their only scoring opportunity of note came through Christopher Nkunku. He was played clean through after Emil Forsberg had won the ball on the halfway line, but as he tried to gut inside onto his stronger right foot, 20-year-old Niklas Tauer came flying in for a crucial, crunching last-ditch challenge in the box.
Leipzig came out needing to make things happen, but it was Mainz who fired the first warning shot of the second half when Paul Nebel - on his first Bundesliga start - got onto the end of a Silvan Widmer cut-back, but couldn't beat Peter Gulacsi. An outright Bundesliga debutant, Mohamed Simakan, then had two chances to snatch an equaliser, but the centre-back was denied by Robin Zentner before heading the ensuing corner over. Jesse Marsch - taking charge of his first Bundesliga match - rung the changes just after the hour by sending on Marcel Sabitzer, Dominik Szoboszlai and Hee-Chan Hwang. Largely subdued, new striker Andre Silva thought he had a chance to level things, but found himself denied by an outstretched leg from Zentner - before the offside flag rendered it all null and void. Mainz thought they had a second when Alexander Hack smashed home a corner, but the assistant referee spotted the cross had gone out of play to start with and celebrations were halted. But not for too long as the 05ers held on to claim all three points against the title hopefuls.
- Niakhate's goal was his sixth in the Bundesliga, with four of those coming in home games against Leipzig.
- The Mainz captain also has four of his club’s last seven league goals against RBL.
- After losing six of the first nine meetings with Leipzig, the 05ers have now won the last two.
- This was Mainz’s first Matchday 1 victory since beating VfB Stuttgart 1-0 in 2018/19.
- Mainz have now scored in their last 11 Bundesliga matches, which they last did between October 2018 and January 2019.
- Svensson has a better record as Mainz head coach than esteemed predecessors Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel (W10, D6, L5).
Watch: Marsch: "We're a work in progress"
Mainz: Zentner - Hack, Bell, Niakhate (c) - Widmer, Barreiro, Tauer (Fürstner 86'), Martin - Nebel (Rösch 89'), Burkardt, Lee (Kilian 90'+1)
Unused subs: Dahmen, Mizuta, Rupil, Bobzien
Out: Boetius (not included), Kohr (not included), Lucoqui (not included), Onisiwo (not included), Stach (suspended), St. Juste (not included), Szalai (not included)
Coach: Bo Svensson
Leipzig: Gulacsi - Mukiele (Brobbey 82'), Simakan, Orban (c), Angelino - Adams (Sabitzer 64'), Kampl - Forsberg, Haidara (Hwang 64'), Nkunku (Szoboszlai 64') - Silva
Unused subs: Martinez, Klostermann, Gvardiol, Laimer, Raebiger
Out: Halstenberg (ankle), Henrichs (knee), Lookman (knee), Olmo (match fitness), Saracchi (knee), Sörloth (ill)
Coach: Jesse Marsch