Mainz - 1. FSV Mainz 05 and Hertha Berlin shared the spoils in a fiercely-contested Matchday 24 closer, playing out a 1-1 draw at the Coface Arena.
Kraft earns his corn
Adrian Ramos put the visitors in front six minutes into the second half with his 15th goal of the Bundesliga campaign, with Maxim Choupo-Moting levelling from the spot on 65 minutes. The result sees both sides lose ground in the race for UEFA Europa League places, with Mainz slipping behind FC Augsburg to seventh on goal difference and Hertha down to ninth, albeit still only two points shy of the top six.
Over the opening quarter-hour there was little to choose between the teams after Fabian Geis tested Hertha custodian Thomas Kraft for the first time with a long-range effort a couple of minutes in. The first real chance of note fell to Shinji Okazaki on 19 minutes, FSV's Japan international heading Maxim Choupo-Moting's far-post cross just over the bar. A minute later, Kraft came racing well outside his box to successfully foil a clean-through Nicolai Müller as Mainz gradually started to force the pace.
Choupo-Moting missed the next opportunity for the home side, with Kraft and Sebastian Langkamp combining to clear the Hertha lines and the keeper was promptly in action again to keep out a first-time effort from Shawn Parker. Minutes later, the overworked Kraft took Parker's follow-up to his own blocked shot full in the face, keeping the Berlin side's goal intact at the price of a corner and a touch of temporary concussion.
Hertha show their mettle
At the other end, Hertha finally managed to get a sniff of goal shortly before the interval, Ramos setting up Sami Allagui for a half-chance from a very tight angle that home keeper Loris Karius blocked with his legs. That proved a small taste of things to come after the interval as Jos Luhukay's men set about making up for their lacklustre first-half showing in double-quick time.
First Per Skjelbred finished off a fine move with a low shot that Karius managed to divert with his fingertips, then the Mainz keeper was able to block Allagui's attempted nutmeg. There was nothing he could do in the 51st minute however when Skjelbred latched onto a loose ball from Choupo-Moting and freed up Ramos on the right side of the box for the Colombian striker to drill home the latest goal in what has been a very productive campaign so far.
Mainz battle back
Mainz responded well to the setback, with Nikolce Noveski powering a header inches wide from a corner soon after. Midway through the second half, the hosts were then handed a golden opportunity to haul themselves level when Allagui pulled down marauding left-back Joo-Ho Park inside the box. Choupo-Moting stepped up to the spot and made amends for his earlier blunder, safely slotting away his third penalty of the season.
There were further chances at either end after that. With just over quarter of an hour to go, Ramos set up Langkamp for an effort on the turn which Karius dealt with, while Kraft was in action again soon after that, tipping Choupo-Moting's lob over the bar. The final opportunity of the contest, an added-time free-kick from Hertha's set-piece specialist Ronny, likewise came to naught and both sides had to be content with a point apiece.
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