Mainz-Hannover, Freiburg-Gladbach settle for hard-fought draws

Hanover's midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt (R) and Mainz' defender fight for the ball during their match on Sunday.


Two rounds into the new season, only Bayer Leverkusen has managed to record a perfect, six-point start, so they now sit alone atop the Bundesliga as the international break begins.

Hannover 96 could have joined them on six points with a Sunday afternoon victory at Mainz. Instead the two sides played out a rather tame, 0-0 draw that didn’t catch fire even when the visitors tried to turn up the pressure in the second half.

There were no goals in the other Sunday match, either, SC Freiburg squandering a 63rd minute penalty kick and finishing level with Borussia Moenchengladbach. It was Freiburg’s first point of the season and ‘Gladbach’s second consecutive draw.

Mainz, which had drawn its season opener at Paderborn, had the better of the early going and might have been a bit unlucky that referee Sascha Stegemann turned a blind eye to a pair of penalty shouts in the first half. The better of the two looked to be Koo Ja-Choel’s claim that he was taken down by Leonardo Bittencourt. Shinji Okazaki also wanted a call when he made a strong run into the box.

Hannover had the best chance of the match in the 51st minute when Hiroshi Kioyatke collected top of the box on the right and shot to the opposite corner. Christoph Moritz was there to clear his line with a volley with Mainz keeper Loris Karius beaten.

Admir Mehmedi fired Freiburg’s spot kick high over the bar to let ‘Gladbach off the hook. Felix Klaus earlier had a 48th minute chance smothered well by ‘Gladbach keeper Yann Sommer and Maximilian Phillip slashed a first-time volley wide of the near post in the 80th minute as the home team had plenty of second half possession without finding a goal for the second straight week.    

American World Cup man Fabian Johnson made a second straight appearance off the bench for the visitors, like last week again getting on for just over the final quarter-hour.