Eintracht beat Mainz 05 3-0 (1-0) in the final match before the winter break. Branimir Hrgota (18’, 85’) and Aymen Barkok (75’) with a joker goal decided the match in favour of the Eagles. With 29 points after 16 games in the 2016/2017 season the Eagles can be proud of themselves. Great job, lads!

A great team effort lead to SGE's 3-0 win against Mainz.
A great team effort leads to SGE's 3-0 win against Mainz.

For the final match before the winter break Eintracht welcomed neighboring FSV Mainz 05 at the Commerzbank Arena. Eintracht only had a two days off after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat in Wolfsburg. Luckily Timothy Chandler was back after his suspension so that Makoto Hasebe could move back to his spot as central defender. He replaced Michael Hector. Both Hasebe and Chandler were also in the spotlight before kick-off when their contract extensions were announced. An early Christmas present for the 48,500 fans at the Commerzbank Arena. 

First Half: Hrgota scores after Abraham’s wonder pass

Eintracht were cautious in the first minutes of the game. The Eagles knew about Mainz’ dangerous counterattacks and focussed on not giving the ball away too fast. The guests were more active in the beginning of the match and started with a high pace and offensive strategy. Eintracht’s combinations were intercepted many times before the box. Hence, in the 18th minute David Abraham tried to overcome Mainz’s defense in a different way and set up Branimir Hrgota with a beautiful long pass. Eintracht’s striker picked the ball up, stayed cool and put it into the back of the net.

Eintracht’s lead came at the perfect moment, but Mainz tried to get one back right away. Luckily the Eagles could count on their goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, who guarded Eintracht’s lead with a magnificent save in the 25th minute. After a corner from the right, Hradecky blocked a header from close range with a great reflex. 

After Eintracht’s goal the match became a constant back and forth. While Mainz were risking more to level the tie, the Eagles had more space in the offense. Five minutes before the halftime whistle Yunus Malli had the best chance for Mainz. While Jesús Vallejo could not stop Malli with his tackle, Mainz’ striker was left with only Lukas Hradecky to beat. This time the Finnish international stayed cool and blocked Malli’s shot (39’). It was the final chance of note in the first half.

Second Half: Barkok’s Second Joker Goal

Eintracht were lucky not to concede a goal right after the kick-off. Seconds after the second half was under way, Hradecky had trouble holding on to the ball and deflected it to the side from where it hit the post (46’). While Mainz were closer to score, they disadvantaged themselves in the 53rd minute. After a regular tackle in Eintracht’s penalty area, Cordoba committed an act of violent conduct against David Abraham and was consequently sent off with a red card. 

With only ten men on the field the guests lost their offensive drive. The Eagles tried to reduce the pace a little and wait for a chance to extend their lead. As this chance did not present itself right away, Niko Kovac tried to safeguard the lead by substituting in fresh players. Shani Tarashaj and Aymen Barkok replaced Rebic and Gacinovic in the offense. Timothy Chandler had SGE’s the first good chance of the second half when he tested Lössi from inside the box. 

Niko Kovac proved that he has the magic touch with his substitutions. In the 75th minute SGE’s youngster Aymen Barkok scored his second joker goal and extended Eintracht’s lead. And it was another wonder goal after his great shot against Bremen. This time Barkok finished with a beautiful dribbling and put the ball across the goal line from close range. 

After the two-goal lead the match was decided in favour of the Eagles. Five minutes before the end Branimir Hrgota and Aymen Barkok were responsible for the final note of the game. This time Barkok set up Hrgota with the assist for his second goal of the evening. 

With a total of 29 points after 16 games Eintracht can look back to a tremendous second half of the year 2016. Who would have thought after the nerve-wrecking relegation play-off matches against Nürnberg back in May that SGE would collect so many points before the winter break? The Eagles can be proud of what they achieved this season so far. Great job, lads!