Max Kruse put the hosts in front with a well-taken finish as Gladbach controlled the early exchanges, but Jonas Hofmann levelled from the spot shortly before half-time to ensure the visitors remain just two points behind in the standings.
Following Gladbach’s energy-sapping draw in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening, Foals coach Lucien Favre rotated his attacking options by leaving Andre Hahn, Ibrahima Traore and Thorgan Hazard on the bench, instead fielding Fabian Johnson and Patrick Herrmann on the wings. The changes failed to disrupt the hosts’ rhythm though and they began the brighter of the two, with Raffael testing Loris Karius in the visiting goal with a smart shot from ten yards after just four minutes.
It was not long before Gladbach did take the lead though. A well-worked team move down the left culminated with the ball falling to Johnson just inside the Mainz penalty area. The USA international swiftly found Kruse hovering around the penalty spot, and after taking a touch to control the ball, the forward flicked his left boot and directed it into the net.
The home team continued to attack and given their dominance all over the pitch, Mainz’s equaliser came against the run of play. After right-back Julian Korb was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box, Hofmann sent Gladbach keeper Yann Sommer the wrong way from the ensuing penalty. Raffael had a chance to restore his side’s lead just before the break following another flowing Gladbach move, but his left-footed shot flew over to allow Mainz to remain on level terms at half time.
After the restart the Foals initially set about flexing their muscles once more and pressed Mainz deep into their own half, at times committing six players forward to close down the opposition. It failed to force any errors though, with a couple of long-distance Granit Xhaka strikes as close as they came to scoring again. Having withstood that early barrage, Mainz took control of the game for the first time, keeping hold of the ball and dictating the pace of the encounter.
That was obviously not to Favre’s liking and after witnessing his side struggle to muster the dynamism and energy of the first half, he brought on Hahn and Hazard in an effort to inject new vigour into the Foals’ play. The former went close within moments of taking to the pitch but his shot lacked accuracy and failed to test Karius, while Hazard had a gilt-edged opportunity to snatch the victory when played through by Xhaka, but Karius was once again able to block.
The clearest chance fell to Raffael late on after another superb team move, but the Brazilian could not squeeze his close-range effort over the line after Hazard’s cut-back had taken Karius out of the game. Gladbach will likely view the draw as two points dropped, but the match nevertheless offered further evidence of their strength this term as a team to be reckoned with in the top third of the table.
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