Augsburg - Adam Szalai's twelfth goal of the season wasn't enough for ten-man 1. FSV Mainz 05 as the European hopefuls were forced to settle for a point in an action-packed encounter at FC Augsburg's SGL Arena on Sunday.
Back from suspension, the clinical Mainz forward struck to take his place atop the all-time Hungarian Bundesliga scorers' chart, but a straight red card to Shawn Parker invited Augsburg to extend their unbeaten start to 2013 and Sascha Mölders accepted with a firm head to level proceedings shortly after half time.
The two sides' tenacious approach made for an open and exciting start to the match, with the 05ers making immediate use of the returning Szalai, whose fierce deflected strike drew a stunning reaction save from veteran goalkeeper Alexander Manninger. Augsburg returned the favour moments later, but defender Ragnar Klavan's downward header was well held by visiting stopper Christian Wetklo.
Markus Weinzierl's men oozed confidence going forward, yet the sheer presence of Szalai at the other end wasn't without the occasional Augsburg wobble. Manninger allowed the determined Hungarian to hook a teasing ball back across goal, but with the Augsburg goal unguarded, Mainz were unable to make good of the chance. Momentarily shaken, the home side then had the linesman to thank for not falling behind when Parker stroked home from an offside position.
The pendulum would swing once more as Augsburg's leading scorer Sasha Mölders tested Wetklo, but it was the visitors who went in at the break with their noses in front - and a man down. Andreas Ivanschitz took a swing at Junior Diaz' left-wing cross allowing that man Szalai to fire his side ahead, before Parker received his marching orders for a dangerously high challenge on substitute and Bundesliga debutant Michael Parkhurst.
Already booked, Diaz was sacrificed at half-time, with Slovakian midfielder Radoslav Zabavnik chosen to stifle the threat posed by the hosts' compact and energetic midfield quintet. The move inadvertantly afforded Augsburg's wide men greater time and space to work their magic, and unsursprisingly brought about a deserved equaliser as Mölders got his head on Marcel De Jong's pinpoint cross to level.
Augsburg smelled blood, with even right-back Parkhurst getting in on the act and tickling the side netting after the Mainz back four had been carved in two by a fine passing move. The Bavarians' charge was relentless and while Mainz were rarely allowed out of their own half, a gutsy defensive display at least gave Thomas Tuchel's men hope with 15 minutes left to play.
Indeed, it was at this point that Mainz managed their first effort on goal since taking the lead, but it wasn't long before Augsburg were back on the offensive through Tobias Werner, who stung the palms of Wetklo. A rare Mainz break saw substitute Marcel Risse bend agonisingly wide from 18 yards as the clock ticked down on a throroughly entertaining Bundesliga contest.
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