Schalke 2-1 Mainz: Amine Harit scored a last gasp rasper to give Schalke all three points
Getty Images/Christof Koepsel

Schalke 2-1 Mainz: Amine Harit scored a last gasp rasper to give Schalke all three points

Amine Harit was the difference between Schalke and Mainz as his solo goal with a couple of minutes remaining gave the hosts all three points in a match where true quality was at a premium.

jonnyosullivan
Jonny Osullivan

Schalke hosted Mainz with hopes of continuing their recent two games which finished 3-0 and 5-1. Mainz, despite winning their first game of the season last weekend, are in poor form, especially away from home. The visitors were desperate to avoid their 10th loss in their last 11 away games at a venue they have not won at since 2012.

First Half

Schalke were favourites to win this Bundesliga matchday five game before kick-off and they began like a side filled with confidence after two impressive back to back wins. The home side dominated the opening 10 minutes without necessarily peppering the Mainz goal. This suddenly changed when Amine Harit changed the pace of the game and charged up the field, eventually sliding Guido Burgstaller through on goal. However, the Austrian striker strayed a yard offside.

The breakaway from the hosts woke Mainz up. The visiting side had several corners and blocked shots to create a little bit of pressure, but neither keeper was being bombarded with efforts on their goal.

In a half which slowly swung in momentum, Schalke picked up the responsibility as being the team who looked like they wanted to score a goal. A dangerous corner met Salif Sane's head and imposing centreback's header was just ahead of the desperate Burgstaller's lunge at the far post.

When the half was looking like it was going to crawl to a dull ending, Harit picked up the ball and drove inside until he slid a beautiful pass through the Mainz defence. Serder took the ball in his stride and fired the ball into the roof of the net to make it 1-0 to the hosts. It truly was a goal which had no parallel to the rest of the half - clinical and incisive. 

With Schalke taking a slightly deserved lead, they took the initiative and pressed on for a second with more purpose. Oczipka received the ball and dinked it to the edge of the year, where a surprisingly acrobatic Burgstaller nearly directed the ball into the top corner. The Austrian was playing like a man who was hungry for goals.

In a half where quality was at a premium, it would be hard to argue that Schalke were not the better team throughout. However, it might have been the case that Mainz simply offered that little that Schalke simply had to punish them at some point.

Second Half

The second half resumed in the same fashion as Mainz attempted in vain to up the tempo but anything positive that happened in the match occurred towards their penalty box and usually due to their error. 

The first 15 minutes of the half were filled with vague glimmers of the possibility that something could happen. Mainz were guilty of giving the ball away on several occasions but poor decision making by Schalke resulted in a lack of clear cut chances.

With Schalke not putting the game to bed with their countless half chances, Mainz were always in with a shout. A free-kick in a wide position was whipped in by Aaron Martin but the ball was slightly ahead of Adam Szalai. This set-piece was a clear indicator that until Schalke grew to be more ruthless, Mainz would always be in with a shout of grabbing something out of the match.

Mainz was growing in confidence and Schalke was edging deeper and deeper with 20 minutes remaining. A smart cut-back found its way to Edmilson Fernandes, but the midfielder's body position was all wrong when he made contact with the shot and it went horribly over the bar.

Schalke's poor decision making and lack of pace up top came to haunt them on the 75th minute. When substitute Onisiwo picked up the ball with his back to the goal there did not seem loads of options. However, he turned on the ball and picked out the top corner, placing the ball just out of Nubel's reach to make it 1-1. Mainz were level and it would be hard to make a case that Schalke deserved their lead.

An air of anxiety entered the stadium following the equaliser. Every mistake from a blue shirt was greeted with moans and groans as Mainz were growing in confidence with each passing minute.

Harit had his first major involvement in the game as he wriggled past a few challenges to find a yard to pull the trigger. Unfortunately for Schalke, Harit's effort drifted agonisingly wide.

The game looked like it was going to die a slow and painful death - enter Amine Harit. Jonjoe Kenny played a nothing pass back to Harit, who sharply turned away from his man and squeezed the ball home with the outside of his foot. It was a goal of the highest quality from a player who, in complete honesty, was the only player on the pitch who showed any real quality throughout the 90 minutes.

Takeaways

Schalke will have to rely this season on Amine Harit finding a level of consistency which will propel them up the league. After the disappointment of the 18/19 season, Schalke will be hoping that David Wagner will be able to inspire them to a much better 19/20 season. If they are to find success then it is crucial Wagner squeezes all the potential out of Harit as he has the ability to change a match with one decisive moment, as he showed against Mainz. 

Mainz away record will not improve any time soon if they continue to allow teams to dominate the play so much. In the first half, Mainz was in first gear and that is being kind. They showed little courage and did not attempt to put much pressure on the Schalke goal. Other than the 10 or 15 minutes after the equalising goal, Mainz were there purely as spectators as they failed to land any punches on a Schalke side who were not exactly firing on all cylinders.

Key Players

Amine Harit's performance stood out from what was a rather average crowd. Although he drifted in and out the game, when the Moroccan international was involved he was superb. A superbly crafted assist which matched the brilliance of his late winner resulted in Harit no doubt being the player of the match. If the 22-year-old can continue this form then Schalke has a player who can have a similar impact to the one Thorgan Hazard has had recently for Borussia Monchengladbach, for example.

Jonjoe Kenny also had a game which slightly set him apart from the rest. The Everton loanee is another from the evergrowing young English talent who are testing their talent in the Bundesliga and has acclimatised to life in Germany with ease. The full-back is superb going forward and often caught the eye with his threaded through balls down the line and his ability to find Burgstaller's feet from distance. He will be able to claim an assist for the winner and is no doubt allowing his reputation to grow with each game he plays in the Bundesliga

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