Paderborn - SC Paderborn were denied a fairytale start to life in the Bundesliga as a late Ja-Cheol Koo penalty earned 1. FSV Mainz 05 a 2-2 draw at the Benteler-Arena on Sunday.
Okazaki on target
Shinji Okazaki put the visitors ahead with his 26th Bundesliga goal, only for Elias Kachunga to equalise moments later. A superb looping header from Üwe Hünemeier late on looked set to give the hosts a memorable victory, only for Koo to snatch a point for Mainz with the last kick of the game.
SC Paderborn showed no signs of nerves as they took to Germany’s biggest footballing stage for the first time in the club’s history, going into tackles aggressively and harrying their opponents relentlessly as soon as they crossed the halfway line. Mainz dominated possession in the early stages without ever threatening to break the deadlock as the hosts’ compact defence stood firm.
An intensely-fought midfield battle ensued and the game’s flow was disrupted by a series of fouls, but that was all to change just after the half-hour mark when Johannes Geis’ free kick from 25 yards came back off the left-hand post. Okazaki was on hand to prod the guests in front from close range and the encounter subsequently opened up, with Paderborn becoming bolder and venturing further into Mainz’s half than they had all match.
They did not have to wait long before equalising, with Kachunga taking advantage of a wayward pass in the Mainz defence to rifle a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area, simultaneously penning his name in the history books as Paderborn’s first ever top-flight scorer and allowing the hosts to go into the break on level terms.
Buoyed by their goal, Paderborn began the second half confidently and, sensing Mainz were on the ropes, pushed for a second. However, although SCP peppered their visitors’ box with crosses they were unable to make the most of their dominance. Gradually, Mainz found their way back into the game and threatened sporadically through Okazaki and Koo up front, but likewise struggled to get a clear sight of goal.
As the game entered the closing stages it once again became a more end-to-end affair and when Paderborn captain Hünemeier scored a superb 87th minute header the newcomers appeared to have sealed all three points.
However, it was not to be as Hünemeier felled Okazaki in the box, allowing Koo to slot home from the penalty spot to seal a 2-2 draw. On the overall balance of play it was a fair result, but Paderborn showed enough to give their fans hope ahead of the rest of the campaign.
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