First Team

Mainz leave with points in 1-0 win

Things are getting ever bleaker in the fight to avoid relegation. The Reds once again left empty handed after the home game against FSV Mainz 05. Jairo scored the winning goal for the visitors in the 24th minute to send Hannover 96 even further towards oblivion.

Milosevic in, Sané out
Head coach Thomas Schaaf made three changes from the 3-0 defeat in Leverkusen. New signing Alexander Milosevic came in to make his debut in central defence in place of the departed Marcelo, playing alongside Christian Schulz, who was returning from suspension – 96’s captain replaced Gülselam. Bech also started in place of Albornoz as Prib returned to the left back position. Sané did not start the game following the end of his suspension as Hoffmann continued in defensive midfield. For Mainz, new signing from Leverkusen Donati started the game in place of Brosinski.

Appallingly week performance
It was a game characterised by tackles in the opening minutes. Mainz’s Bell saw an early yellow card in just the second minute as both sides fought for every inch, without actually posing any goal threat. It took eleven minutes before Clemens had the first effort on 96’s goal. However, the low shot went by the left-hand post. Schaaf’s side attempted to create structured attacks, but the visitors seemed more determined. And so to the 24th minute, when Jairo picked up a simple pass from Clemens on the right and drove into the penalty area despite Hannover having good numbers back. His shot into the bottom left corner left Zieler with no chance and the visitors went 1-0 up. FSV deserved their lead and 96 simply did not offer enough. Now rattled, Schaaf’s side rode their luck as first Balogun’s volley, then Jairo’s curling effort and finally Bussmann’s shot all went by the right-hand post. Schmiedebach’s desperate long-range effort on 35 minutes was the Reds’ only effort of the first half. Thomas Schaaf had seen enough and decide to change things up after 36 minutes as he introduced Sané in place of Yamaguchi. The home side allowed the visitors nothing more before the break, which was the only relatively positive aspect from an appallingly weak first half by the side bottom of the table.

Two efforts for Almeida, but no reward
There were no changes at half time, and it showed in the performance of the home side. Hannover did, however, have their first shot on the Mainz goal through Szalai’s low shot from 18 yards shortly before the hour mark. But FSV’s keeper Karius was not troubled by the effort and held the ball comfortably. Mainz impressively maintained their lead and remained comfortable, which led Schaaf to make further changes when he replaced Hoffmann with Sobiech and Karaman came on for Bech to try and increase the team’s attacking power. Whilst Mainz always threatened to break away with little counterattacks, the big chance to equalise for the desperate but headless home side came in the 70th minute. Almeida came into the penalty area from the right and found himself free, but his shot went the wrong side of the left-hand post. And it was the Portuguese again ten minutes later when his free kick from 23 yards forced Karius to punch the ball to defuse the situation. That was about it from the home side, but the visitors could have made it 2-0 before the end as Clemens’ curler from 22 yards hit bar and post in the top left corner before bouncing back into play just two minutes before the end. And so, Mainz left Hannover with a deserved and untroubled three points.

Sixth defeat in a row
With six consecutive losses, 96 are now coming face to face with the spectre of relegation. Although Schaaf’s anxious side did eventually move into second gear, in the end Mainz were the cleverer and better team and deserved to win. Hannover will now need some surprises to avoid losing touch with the sides outside of the relegation places – and that could mean a big win against all-conquering Dortmund…

MATCH FACTS:

Hannover 96: Zieler - Sakai, Milosevic, Schulz, Prib - Hoffmann (63’ Sobiech), Bech (67’ Karaman), Yamaguchi (35’ Sané), Schmiedebach - Szalai, Almeida

1. FSV Mainz 05: Karius - Donati, Balogun, Bell, Bussmann - Baumgartlinger, Latza (85’ Moritz), Clemens, Malli (67’ Cordoba), Jairo - Muto (74’ Frei)

Goals: 1-0 Jairo (24’) 

Yellow cards: Milosevic / Bell, Muto

Referee: Robert Hartmann (Wangen)

Attendance: 35,596

Photos: deisterpics / firo sportphoto