Mainz - Shinji Okazaki and Nicolai Müller starred for 1. FSV Mainz 05 as they got their season off to a winning start with a 3-2 victory against VfB Stuttgart.
Müller grabbed a brace while Okazaki opened his Mainz account against his former club, for whom Vedad Ibisevic and Martin Harnik were on target.
Without the injured Georg Niedermeier, Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia was forced to hand Benedikt Röcker his debut in the starting XI. A regular in Stuttgart’s reserves last season, the defender had a baptism of fire, as his slip contributed to Mainz taking the lead, with Müller ruthlessly capitalising to put the home team ahead.
The hosts' celebrations were short lived, though, with Ibisevic, scorer of Stuttgart’s three goals so far this season in the UEFA Europa League and DFB-Cup, pouncing to open his account in the Bundesliga.
Ulreich in the way
Ibrahima Traore sent in an inviting cross from the right which the Bosnian met at the near post to guide past Heinz Müller and bring Stuttgart level. It was the turn of the visiting fans to raise their voices, but they too were almost silenced when some more trickery from Germany international Müller carved open a chance for Sebastian Polter, but Sven Ulreich denied him with his legs.
Okazaki had struggled to make an impression on the game, but he got the chance after half an hour. A bit more direction on his shot might well have seen him open his Mainz account, but instead he found the outstretched body of Ulreich.
The Japanese midfielder made amends shortly afterwards though, bending his run behind the defence before deftly cutting inside and placing the ball past Ulreich to put Mainz in front again. Nicolai Müller sealed the win in the closing stages with his second of the afternoon, getting just enough on his shot to beat Ulreich, who got a weak hand to the ball but could not keep it out.
Heinz Müller then blotted his copybook with a costly mistake, spilling Cacau’s shot to the feet of Harnik, who gave Stuttgart hope of a fightback with just under ten minutes left. The visitors searched for an equaliser, but failed to find one as Mainz held on to the points.
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