Niakhate: Senegal prospect fires Mainz past Haidara’s RB Leipzig

The centre-back was the 05ers’ hero as they silenced the Red Bulls in Sunday’s German elite division clash

Moussa Niakhate was Mainz’s hero after scoring his club’s only goal in Sunday’s 1-0 triumph over RB Leipzig in a Bundesliga encounter.

The 25-year-old settled the encounter with his 13th-minute effort to hand Bo Svensson’s team a winning start inside Mewa Arena.

After finishing the 2020-21 campaign in fine fashion to avoid demotion to Bundesliga 2, Mainz picked up where they left off to take the lead early.

Profiting from Nordi Mukiele’s inability to clear a corner kick clearly, Niakhate picked up the ball and rifled past goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.

Leipzig nearly levelled matters, however, Niklas Tauer’s last-gasp tackle prevented Christopher Nkunku from wreaking havoc after bursting into the penalty area.

Although Jesse Marsch’s men were in cruise control, even at that, they were unable to convert their numerous corners into goals.

In the second half, Paul Nebel was close to extending Mainz’s lead, nonetheless, his low drive was stopped well by Gulacsi, as the visiting side struggled to impress.

At the end of 90 minutes, it was Leipzig that returned home with heads bowed low.

While Niakhate was in action for Mainz from start to finish, Angolan defender Anderson Lucoqui was not listed for action by manager Svensson.

On the other hand, former France youth international of Guinean origin Mohamed Simakan played every minute while DR Congo prospect Mukiele was handed a starter’s role but was replaced by Brian Brobbey in the 82nd minute.

His compatriot Nkunku was subbed off for Dominik Szoboszlai four minutes after the hour mark while former England youth international of Nigerian background Ademola Lookman did not make the matchday squad.

Following their disappointing start to the new season, Marsch’s RB Leipzig would be hoping to bounce back when they host Stuttgart to the Red Bull Arena in their next outing on August 20.

For Mainz, who have won their last four games in all competitions, they travel to Vonovia-Ruhrstadion in a bid to continue their winning streak versus newly promoted side VfL Bochum.

Born in Roubaix to Senegalese parents, Niakhate is eligible to represent Senegal at senior level despite representing France at U19, U20 and U21 level.

With the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations five months away, he could be invited to Aliou Cisse’s Lions of Teranga squad to compete for a place in the biennial Africa football showpiece billed for Cameroon.

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