The opening Bundesliga game on Sunday saw SV Darmstadt 98 travel to nearby 1. FSV Mainz 05 and despite it being a derby match tensions are rarely high in the meetings between the two. However, a close exciting encounter was in store as Mainz ended a poor run of late.
Darmstadt were yet to win away from home this season in the league and today's game presented a good opportunity for Die Lilien as their hosts Mainz had struggled to earn three points at home, Die Nullfünfer hadn't won at home since April and they were looking to end a run of five games without a win at the Opel Arena.
No mercy from Mainz as they fly out the blocks
The home side couldn't dream of a better start to their afternoon as five minutes into the game they took the lead. Daniel Brosinski excellently lofted the ball over the top of the Darmstadt defence to Gaetan Bussmann, who at the first time of asking played the ball across to the open Pablo De Blasis and the Argentine fired past Michael Esser.
Darmstadt looked to react quickly to conceding and pushed more and more men forward, come the 17th minute they almost equalised. A cross into the Mainz area wasn't dealt with and this allowed László Kleinheisler to volley from range and in catching Jonas Lössl off his line he almost scored, fortunately for Mainz Lössl managed to get the slightest of touches to flick the effort onto the bar.
A minute later Mainz should've scored. Levin Öztunali fed the ball forward to Yunus Mallı, who excellently played the ball through to Jhon Andrés Córdoba and despite doing the hard part of getting away from his marker and rounding the keeper he couldn't direct his shot on target and his chance was wasted as it struck the side netting.
In the 25th minute Malli was denied, the Mainz star dr forward towards goal and he excellently sent Alexander Milosevic flying past him as he faked a shot to cut inside, his left footed effort was then saved by the hand of Esser who did well to stop his side going another goal down.
The resulting corner saw Malli deliver and it was Alexander Hack who managed to meet the delivery, sadly for the central defender he couldn't make the most of his chance and headed just wide of the post.
After the half hour mark Córdoba had another chance to get himself on the scoresheet, Malli crossed from the right and Córdoba's powerful header cannoned off the crossbar.
The last action of the half saw some controversy, a high ball in the area saw Stefan Bell challenge with Antonio-Mirko Colak, the latter went down and the referee awarded a penalty which was very harsh on the Mainz defender. Colak stepped up to take the penalty and disappointingly for the forward his penalty was saved by Lössl, despite the save you could argue Lössl was well off his line before the penalty was taken.
Mainz hold on despite a late push from Darmstadt
Darmstadt's second half didn't start in the way they would've wanted, like the first they conceded early. In the 56th minute Malli picked up the ball outside the area and danced his way into the box and Die Lilien skipper Aytac Sulu made a poor decision and brought down his countryman. The penalty was awarded and Malli was the man that calmly stepped up and stroked the ball down the middle to double his side's lead.
After the hour mark Darmstadt created a golden chance to get themselves back into the game, an awful back pass from Giulio Donati saw Sven Schipplock run through on goal, the substitute managed to get past Lössl. However the angle was against the forward and he was forced to cut the ball back across goal to where Colak was arriving and somehow the Croatian failed to make contact on the pass and the chance was wasted.
Following that missed opportunity the game died down slightly as Darmstadt looked defeated and Mainz looked to see out the result. The next chance didn't arrive till injury time and this saw another penalty awarded for Darmstadt.
A cross into the area saw a header strike the arm of Niko Bungert and a penalty was awarded, once again it was a harsh decision against the home side as there was no intent and no way Bungert could avoid the handball with the header being so close. Nevertheless Jérôme Gondorf stepped up for the away side and produced a quality penalty to score his first goal of the season.
Darmstadt left it late to get on the score sheet and they will look back on this game thinking what could've been after a handful of missed opportunities that should've struck the back of the net. Mainz will be delighted with all three points and even more so that their home curse has come to an end.
Mainz move up to eleventh place following the victory and up next they face Schalke away after hosting Anderlecht in the Europa League during the week. Following today's loss Darmstadt have to dust themselves off and pick themselves up for the visit of Wolfsburg.