There was to be no fairytale start for 1. FSV Mainz 05 in their UEFA Europa League Group C campaign after French side AS Saint-Etienne scored a late equaliser to secure a 1-1 draw at the OPEL Arena on Thursday evening.
Goals: 1-0 Bungert (57'), 1-1 Beric (88')
The first half was a timid affair, with neither team wanting to risk too much early on. The hosts saw more of the ball in the final third but found no way through a well-drilled visiting back line, despite some neat link-up play between Yunus Malli, Pablo de Blasis and Yoshinori Muto.
Martin Schmidt's men did manage to break through early in the second half, though, when captain Niko Bungert took advantage of some slack defending to nod home a Malli corner. Yet, just as they had done against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim last weekend, Mainz were unable to hold onto their lead and allowed Robert Beric to score late on to give Saint-Etienne an unlikely point.
Man of the match
Constantly probing in midfield, always available for a pass and with elusive movement making him difficult to mark, Malli was Mainz's standout performer here.
Bungert will go down in Mainz's record books after becoming the first player to score for the club in the group stage proper of the Europa League.
- This was Mainz's first ever home game in the group stage of the Europa League.Giulio Donati had more touches of the ball (71) than any other Mainz player.The hosts had just 43 per cent of possession.
Mainz: Lössl – Donati, Bell, Bungert (c), Bussmann – Serdar (Frei 72'), Gbamin – Clemens (Öztunali 84'), Malli, De Blasis – Muto (Cordoba 69')
Coach: Martin Schimdt
Saint-Etienne: Moulin – Malcuit, Theophile-Catherin, Perrin (c), Pogba – Selnaes – Dabo (Tannane 57'), Lemoine (Veretout 67') – Hamouma, Beric, Saivet (Söderlund)
Coach: Christophe Galtier