1. FSV Mainz 05 1-1 AS Saint-Etienne: Schmidt's side fall to late Beric equaliser

1. FSV Mainz 05 1-1 AS Saint-Etienne: Schmidt's side fall to late Beric equaliser

Mainz were denied the three points after a late Les Verts goal crashed Martin Schmidt's party

Dylan Walsh

1. FSV Mainz 05 suffered to a late Robert Beric goal to draw their first UEFA Europa League game, 1-1, after a thrilling second half.

Following a dull opening 45 minutes, Mainz took the lead 12 minutes into the second half after a dismal defensive display from Saint Etienne on a set-piece allowed the captain, Niko Bungert, to head home the opening goal.

The hosts looked to have had to game under wraps, but a swift free kick from Kevin Theophile-Catherine allowed Beric to slide home the equaliser two minutes from time.

A slow start

Mainz’s first European match started off slowly, as both sides found it hard to break down each other. Florentin Pogba had the first threatening chance of the match in the 20th minute, when the Guinea international tried to catch Jonas Lossl off his line from inside his own half, but his audacious effort landed harmlessly onto the roof of the net

Romain Hamouma was close again for the visitors half-an-hour into the first half, when the winger was smartly played through by Bryan Dabo, leaving the Frenchman with acres of space to cause some trouble, his low strike, however, was smothered by Lossl.

Henri Saivet was next to test the Danish goalkeeper after Saint Etienne were awarded a free kick 25-yards from goal. The Newcastle loanee hit the ball sweetly, however Lossl was equal to it, catching the ball with ease.

The sleeping giants

After the slow and boring show that was the first half, the second half showed early signs of promise. Christian Clemens provided Mainz with their first effort on goal in the 49th minute after the winger was allowed to burst down the left flank, before firing from distance and forcing a good save from Jessy Moulin.

Moulin was forced into another save after Bungert, was allowed to strike from distance on the half-volley, but the Saint-Etienne goalkeeper tipped the ball, and out for a corner.

However, Mainz took the lead from the resulting corner. Yunes Malli whipped in a great corner, which flew through the entire population of the Saint Etienne penalty box, and found Bungert at the far post, who headed home the ball into an empty net, to give Mainz the lead.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)
Bungert celebrates Mainz' opener (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Les Verts made tactical changes going into the final 15 minutes to try and squeeze an equaliser out. Oussama Tannane and Jordan Veretout were brought on to flood the midfield, turning a midfield three into a midfield five.

The change worked for Christophe Galtier’s side, as the Ligue 1 side starting to take the game by the scruff of the neck, by dictating the play with dominance, and having the majority of the chances.

A dramatic conclusion

The pressure pulled of as Beric equalised for the visitors two minutes from time. Theophile-Catherine played a long ball from his own half, that was cleared terribly by Levin Oztunali inside the penalty area, giving Beric a golden opportunity to equalise for the visitors, and the target man took his chance well, and slide the ball past Lossl.

Saint Etienne tried to find a dramatic late winner, but time was not on their side, and the match ended as a 1-1 draw.