How did Taiwo Awoniyi destroy old club Mainz?

The forward ended his three-game goal drought against old friends to take his league tally to five strikes heading into October’s international break.

Taiwo Awoniyi (Instagram/Taiwo Awoniyi)

Taiwo Awoniyi’s expert finishing against Mainz on Sunday helped to silence the crowd at MEWA Arena as Union Berlin fought back from a goal down to claim a 2-1 success.

The Carnival Club went in front through Marcus Ingvartsen, although Awoniyi could have netted his first before the home side went ahead.

He failed to connect to Max Kruse’s pick out into the box but crucially didn’t hide against his old team on their turf.

Awoniyi was on hand to score two quick-fire goals after half-time to turn the game on its head and hand Union a successive win and a third in the entire division. The fact his goals came from 0.6 expected goals indicates how clinical he was in front of goal.

Having gone three Bundesliga games without scoring, the former Liverpool striker didn’t show signs of a man on a mini drought in the Bundesliga to score twice.

Both goals were somewhat identical, too.

For the first, the center-forward picked up Max Kruse’s through-ball, held off Silvan Widmer before slotting beyond Robin Zentner in the Mainz goal. His second saw him benefit from a ricochet off teammate Kevin Behrens and hold off David Nemeth before slotting home for another, four minutes after his first.

“Well, I think it’s not only about me but also the team,” the striker remarked after the game.

“I’m a believer and I give God all the glory because my time here was not easy.

“Now I have scored on my return, but I think it was a collective effort from the team.”

The Nigerian has netted five times in seven games in the German top flight, a tally bettered by only Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland (seven) and Patrick Schick (six). Perhaps impressively is the fact his quintet of strikes have come from expected goals of 3.15, underlining how generally solid his finishing has been this season.

Awoniyi’s goals helped to end a four-game losing run for Union in Mainz and halted the hosts’ unbeaten run at MEWA Arena before gameweek seven. In one game, the Carnival Club conceded twice, one goal short of the number of times they’d been breached on their turf before Sunday.

The Nigerian was rewarded hours after the game with a call-up to the Super Eagles squad and it’ll be fascinating to see how he fares on debut for Gernot Rohr’s men.

While the former Liverpool man couldn’t make his mark on Merseyside, Union and the Bundesliga are set to be beneficiaries of the marksman’s instincts in front of goal.

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Seye Omidiora is a passionate football writer and pundit whose deep appreciation for the beautiful game exceeds the usual. He is currently a columnist for Goal Africa and has previously written for Vital Football UK, IBCity Info and Opera News.

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