Borussia Dortmund 0-2 Mainz, Signal-Iduna Park
(Burkardt 34′, Mateta pen. 49′)
Teenager Jonathan Burkardt couldn’t have chosen a better time to score his first Bundesliga goal. His unstoppable header past Dortmund keeper Roman Bürki in front of the Südtribüne was the kind of slick goal that Dortmund themselves have scored so many times under Lucien Favre.
But with Bayern Munich wrapping up the title on Tuesday night, this was an evening when Dortmund couldn’t get going. Perhaps suffering from a lack of motivation, a ponderous Dortmund stuttered through this game without showing any of the quality that has made them so electrifying in the Favre era. With little to play for, Dortmund were a long way from the great entertainers we’ve come to expect of them.
But this night wasn’t about Dortmund. Mainz produced their finest performance of the season at a time when they needed it most. Achim Beierlorzer’s side have struggled badly at home since the restart, failing to pick up a single point or score a single goal in three attempts. Instead it’s been their form on the road that has liberated them, and while that’s not been unusual in the Bundesliga since its return, this result was a bolt from the blue.
Resolute and organized
Unperturbed from an earlier miss, 19-year-old Burkardt, a Mainz youth product, seized his chance in the 34th minute, finishing a high quality and incisive move with an equally clinical header from Ridle Baku’s pinpoint cross.
The goal was the reward Mainz’s overall performance deserved. The visitors were resolute, organized and unforgiving. Mainz turned up with a job to do and they could hardly have done it any better. Midfielder Baku was exceptional at right-back, unafraid to commit to Mainz’s attacks from defense. Defender Jeremiah St. Juste was strong, and Jean-Philippe Mateta lead the line alone. Everyone played their part in a tactical masterclass by Beierlorzer.
Lukasz Piszczek’s lazy foul in the box gave Mainz the chance to double their lead from the penalty spot shortly after the break, and Mateta stroked it in to put daylight between the sides. He kicked the flag off the corner flag in celebration as Mainz’s players allowed themselves just a few moments to indulge in a crucial second goal, which paved the way for this seismic result.
Matete’s 49th minute penalty sealed the win for Mainz.
Grim implications rivals
One could almost feel Fortuna Düsseldorf and Werder Bremen fans around Germany hanging their heads as they witnessed an unbelievable performance by Mainz, who clinched a victory that puts them five points clear of the relegation play-off with two games left. And Mainz might have won by an even more handsome margin had they maintained their ice-cold finishing in the latter stages.
Saturday’s game between Mainz and Werder Bremen could hardly be bigger. Mainz know that just a rare home point will secure them another season in the Bundesliga, although their superior goal difference could be enough to tilt the scales in their favor anyway. Nothing but a win for Bremen will do, with Mainz having seemingly pulled off a great escape with a supreme performance on a famous night.