It had looked as though the hosts would have to settle for a point after an inspired display from Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, but 24-year-old Choupo-Moting climbed highest to convert Zdenek Pospech’s deep cross and give Mainz a second win in three games.
Thomas Tuchel was missing top scorer Nicolai Müller, and it showed as Mainz failed to make the most of two excellent chances in the opening quarter of the game. Pospech could only fire into the side netting after a surging run into the box, before Japan international Shinji Okazakai was denied by a sprawling Kevin Trapp after being freed by the Czech defender's inviting cross.
Pospech’s marauding runs were freeing up space for Takashi Inui to lead the Frankfurt challenge on the break, but their main threat seemed to come from set-pieces, with Vaclav Kadlec and Sebastian Rode both sending efforts over the top, and Alex Meier heading against the post. Trapp then denied Pospech in acrobatic fashion, before Inui wasted his team’s best chance of the game, failing to get a shot away after rounding Mainz’s stand-in keeper Loris Karius.
As the half-time whistle approached, Müller’s absence was brought into sharper focus when Sebastian Polter, playing on the right side of midfield, took Yunus Malli’s pass in his stride, only to fire wildly off target, and the teams entered the dressing rooms goalless at the interval.
Karius, in the team due to Heinz Müller’s injury and Christian Wetklo’s suspension, hadn’t had to make a single save in the opening half, but he proved his worth within minutes of the restart. After Polter had been thwarted by another Trapp stop at the other end, the Lithuanian custodian pulled off a fantastic double save to keep out two identical angled drives from Tranquillo Barnetta.
Mainz sneak it
To his credit, Tuchel made a positive change on the hour, introducing Choupo-Moting, meaning with Polter and Okazaki he had three strikers in the pitch. The replacement almost made an instant impact with a glancing header, but Trapp was again well placed to make the save. Shawn Parker also came on to add to the hosts’ forward presence, but Mainz seemed to be tiring as the game wore on, only threatening the Eagles’ goal with sporadic attempts from distance.
To be sure, it was Tuchel’s men that looked the more likely to score, but their finishing continued to let them down, with Colombian midfielder Elkin Soto blazing over in the closing stages. The deadlock was finally broken, though, when Choup-Moting headed home a cross from the tireless Pospech with two minutes remaining, giving Mainz their fifth victory of the season.
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