Paderborn was one minute away from a dream start to their Bundesliga season, but a last-minute penalty kick awarded to Mainz in stoppage time forced the newly promoted team to settle for a 2-2 draw in front of a lively sold out home crowd.
At the beginning of the match it looked to be a defensive struggle in Benteler Arena, as Mainz had trouble getting through Paderborn’s stingy defense. Their scoring drought ended when forward Shinji Okazaki was able to capitalize off of a free kick in the 33rd minute. The free kick from Johannes Geis right foot went past a diving Lukas Kruse and bounced straight back into play off of the left goalpost. Fortunately for Mainz, the Japanese international was there to fire it by the helpless Kruse for a 1-0 lead.
Die Nullfünfers lead was short-lived, however, as Paderborn responded minutes later. Paderborn forward Elias Kachunga stole a clearing pass from Geis near Mainz’s goal area and struck the ball into the back of the net to equalize with less than ten minutes before the half.
Although the score did not reflect it, both teams were more aggressive to start the second half. Each side failed to take advantage of numerous opportunities near the goal. But just as it looked like the match was heading to a 1-1 draw, Paderborn’s free kick in the 87th minute from Marvin Bakalorz was met perfectly by team captain and defender Uwe Hünemeier, who headed a looping ball into the far corner for a 2-1 lead to the delight of over 14,000 fans in attendance.
Paderborn’s three points slipped away in the 92nd minute when Mainz was awarded a penalty kick. Team captain Hünemeier made a critical mistake and took down a streaking Okazaki in the box. From there, the three points turned into one as Mainz midfielder Koo Ja-cheol calmly ran up and nailed the stationary ball into the bottom corner, leveling the score and salvaging what would have been a disastrous showing for the heavily favored away team.
Neither team would have a chance to do more. As soon as play began again from midfield, the referee blew his whistle and the match was over. Frustrated Paderborn fans whistled loudly in the direction of the referee, who they were unhappy with for awarding Mainz their last-minute penalty kick, though the call was very obvious.. Hünemeier could only sit on the field, hands wrapped around his knees in disappointment at what could have been.
Although the ending was tough to swallow for the home crowd, Paderborn showed they are more than capable of holding their own against their larger, more well-financed rivals. They will look to carry their momentum into next week’s game when they travel north to Hamburger SV for their opponent’s home debut.
As for Mainz, they are very fortunate to end up leaving Paderborn with one point. The team looks like they are still adjusting to new coach Kasper Hjulmand’s short passing style and were not able to generate much offense outside of free kicks awarded from the referee. Die Nullfünfers will try to right the ship at home next week against Hannover 96, who was victorious in yesterday’s matchup with FC Schalke 2-1.
Header courtesy of dpa
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