Mainz 3-1 Stuttgart

Posted on November 4, 2011

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ANTHONY UJAH scored twice as Mainz came from behind to beat VfB Stuttgart 3-1 in a fiercly-contested match at the Coface Arena.

The Nigerian striker’s two goals in the space of 11 minutes, as well as, a penalty from Andreas Ivanschitz gave Mainz their first victory in nine Bundesliga games.

Stuttgart had taken the lead on 49 minutes through Cacau but a resilient Mainz, who had Eugen Polanski sent off on 83 minutes, were too strong for their opponents.

Thomas Tuchel’s men sat dangerously close to the relegation zone with just one point seperating them and Hamburg SV who currently occupy the play-off position.

Mainz were without influential skipper Nikolce Noveski who was taken off after 15 minutes last week and he was replaced by Julian Baumgartlinger. Tuchel also swapped Eugen Polanski, Andreas Ivanschitz and Nicolai Muller for Malik Fathi, Yunus Malli and Eric-Maxim Chopou-Moting.

Sitting in sixth place following their draw with champions Borussia Dortmund last weekend, the visitors were unchanged and stuck closely with their successful 4-2-3-1 system.

The early exchanges at the Coface Arena were extremeley scrappy with neither side taking control of the match. The first good chance though came on eight minutes with Zdravko Kuzmanovic heading wide from a corner kick.

The usually creative attacking trio of Stuttgart struggled against a very compact Mainz side who had conceded 29 goals this season in the Bundesliga. Japanese forward Okazaki was growing frustrated at not having the ball often on the left-hand side and picked up an early yellow card.

In one of the better moves of the half, Martin Harnik impressively dribbled from side his own half but when he got to the edge of the box, he bundled his shot wide of the right-hand post.

Just after the half hour mark, good determination from Harnik almost created room for Okazaki to score the opener and if the Austrian had timed his pass across goal correctly, the Japanese striker would have had a tap-in.

Four minutes later, the home side, against the run of play, created a terrific opportunity when persistance gave Ivanschitz the break of the ball over Sven Ulreich and the Mainz midfielder’s fnish trickled towards goal but was cleared on the line.

At the start of the half, Mainz moved to a two in attack and eventually stuck with that following the entrance of Sami Allagui. On 48 minutes, Nicolai Muller showed some very neat football but his run was halted by Ulreich who picked up a head injury.

And Thomas Tuchel’s side should have opened the scoring on 49 minutes through Anthony Ujah who did well to control the ball inside the area but he squandered a good opening with the goalkeeper out of position.

However, the away side broke the deadlock on a quick counter from Labbadia’s men involving Martin Harnik who produced a low cross from the right which was converted by Cacau at the near-post.

Just two minutes after Cacau’s strike, Mainz were back on level terms when Elkin Soto provided a decent cross from the left-hand side which found Anthony Ujah whose header bundled in to the far corner.

The home crowd at the Coface Arena seemed galvanised by Mainz’s equaliser and they soon got louder as the referee awarded a controversial spot-kick on 59 minutes.

After much fury from Stuttgart, including a yellow card for Ulreich, Mainz’s Andreas Ivanschitz stepped up under pressure and slotted the ball in to the net for his third of the season.

Within 10 minutes, the game had gone from relatively dull to an enthralling affair and it took another twist as Anthony Ujah capitalised on a mistake in the Stuttgart back-four and slotted in to an empty net to the delight of the ever-enthusiastic Tuchel on the touchline.

In a drastic attempt to prevent this match ending in a thrashing for Stuttgart, Labbadia made two switches with twenty mintues to play. Full-back Cristian Molinaro was replaced by Ibrahima Traore and the ineffective Okazaki went off for young striker Christoph Hemlein.

Stuttgart’s best chances came from cross-balls and set-pieces, in particular, from Martin Harnik who made two terrific deliveries from the right which neither Cacau or Hemlein could score.

The visitors were handed a late lifeline when Mainz midfielder Eugen Polanski was given a straight red card with seven minutes remaining.

But Stuttgart failed to take advantage of the man difference and Mainz held on to secure a vital three points which open up a three-point gap between them and 16th-place Hamburg SV.

Bruno Labbadia was clearly unhappy at referee Guido Winkmann’s performance and after he and his players confronted the officials at the full-time whistle, defender Maza was shown a red card.

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