Fear of losing appeared to outweigh the desire to win, producing a cagey encounter which was decided by a single goal from Son in the 63rd minute.
Mainz had stolen a march on Hamburg in recent weeks, edging three points clear of their hosts, and they showed early on exactly why they are pushing for a place in Europe next season. Tuchel said on the eve of the game that his side is gelling more and more by the game, and this newfound understanding was evident as they pegged Hamburg back and went close to opening the scoring through Marcel Risse in the sixth minute. The hosts struggled to find an answer with Marcel Jansen’s distance effort the best they could show from the opening 20 minutes, but Christian Wetklo punched the ball clear.
Rafael van der Vaart is usually the man for the bright ideas, but he was unable to find the room to put any of his plans into practice. Bo Svensson was following him around like a shadow and the Dutchman’s frustrations got the better of him in the 24th minute when he received a yellow card for an unnecessary foul on Marco Caligiuri.
Son breaks deadlock
The second half started in a similar vein with clear openings few and far between. Both teams appeared to be waiting for their opponents to make a mistake before Son took matters into his own hands and put the home team in front, tucking in Beister’s volleyed cross in the 63rd minute to break the deadlock. Mainz now had to invest a little more into the game, which they appeared more than willing and able to do as Eugen Polanski’s shot tested Rene Adler.
Despite their efforts, though, Mainz were unable to find an equaliser as Hamburg closed up shop and prevented them from finding a way through. Fink lined his men up on the edge of their own penalty area and there was just no way through for Tuchel’s men, despite their efforts, making the Imtech Arena look like their own home as they continued to probe, albeit in vain.
Line-ups and statistics