Leipzig’s Marsch loses Bundesliga debut at virus-hit Mainz

BERLIN (AP) — American coach Jesse Marsch’s Bundesliga debut in charge of Leipzig ended Sunday in a shock 1-0 loss at Mainz, a team hit by coronavirus infections.

Mainz coach Bo Svensson had to field an inexperienced side with 11 players in quarantine after three tested positive for COVID-19 over the previous week. Three members of his coaching staff were also in quarantine.

If Leipzig’s players were expecting an easy game against their depleted opponents, they were soon disappointed, however. The home team attacked from the off and twice went close before Moussa Niakhaté scored what proved to be the winner.

Nordi Mukiele failed to clear and Niakhaté fired the ball into the net from close range in the 13th minute.

Leipzig’s best chance came for Christopher Nkunku on a quick counterattack in the 19th, but the 20-year-old Niklas Tauer got back with a brilliant block to deny the French player.

Goalkeeper Robin Zentner prevented Leipzig’s Mohamed Simakan from equalizing on his Bundesliga debut in the second half, while Marsch urged his team on from the sideline.

Marsch made three substitutions in the 64th minute, but Mainz refused to buckle and even had another goal ruled out for offside ten minutes later.

André Silva headed just over and Zentner made another save as Leipzig went close in injury time.

Marsch arrived from sister club Red Bull Salzburg to take over from Julian Nagelsmann as Leipzig coach. Nagelsmann, who led Leipzig to second place in the Bundesliga last season, left to take charge of defending champion Bayern Munich.

COLOGNE BEATS HERTHA

Stevan Jovetić scored early on his Bundesliga debut for Hertha Berlin at Cologne. But the hosts fought back to win 3-1 in new coach Steffen Baumgart’s first league game in charge.

Anthony Modeste equalized before the break, and two quick-fire goals from Florian Kainz early in the second half completed the turnaround.

TRIBUTES

Supporters in both stadiums – back after a season in which they had been away due to coronavirus restrictions – paid their respects to former Bayern Munich and Germany great Gerd Müller with a minute’s silence in Mainz and minute’s applause in Cologne.

Müller, who was known as “Der Bomber” for his scoring prowess, died early Sunday morning at age 75.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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