Liverpool loanee scores first goal and Marko Grujic denies ‘kiss’ as Bundesliga returns

The Bundesliga returned at the weekend, albeit behind closed doors, and three Liverpool loanees were in action as Taiwo Awoniyi scored his first goal for Mainz.

It has been a difficult campaign for Awoniyi at Jurgen Klopp‘s old club, with the Nigerian playing just six times prior to the restart of football in Germany.

The 22-year-old, who joined Mainz in an effort to qualify for a UK work permit, had not featured since December 7, and it almost goes without saying that he had not troubled the goalkeeper in those 146 minutes of action.

But with Mainz trailing 2-0 on the 56-minute mark in Koln on Sunday, Achim Beierlorzer sent on Awoniyi in place of ex-Sunderland striker Ji Dong-won.

It took Awoniyi just five minutes to find the back of the net, producing a fine instinctive finish from close range after a bright move that culminated in Ridle Baku’s cross.

“I’m really happy about scoring my first goal for Mainz,” he told the club’s official website after the game.

“We came back very well as a team today and fought our way back into the match.”

Mainz certainly did fight their way back, with Pierre Kunde Malong adding to Awoniyi’s deficit-reducer to seal a 2-2 draw which keeps them four points above the relegation zone.

It could aid Awoniyi’s chances of a more prominent role in the near future, perhaps starting with the home clash with RB Leipzig next Sunday.

Elsewhere, Marko Grujic was forced to deny a ‘kiss’ from Hertha Berlin team-mate Dedryck Boyata in their 3-0 victory over Hoffenheim on Saturday, with both insisting the Belgian was issuing set-piece instructions.

The incident has led to scrutiny over player contact as the Bundesliga became the first major league to resume play in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Grujic played the full 90 minutes for Hertha despite the availability of five substitutions and picking up a yellow card in the first half, with there hope for the Serbian under new manager Bruno Labbadia.

Another Liverpool loanee was in action at the weekend as Stuttgart lost away to Wehen Wiesbaden on Sunday, with Nat Phillips playing an hour at right-back.

Stuttgart looked to be on their way to a 1-1 draw, only for VAR to spot a handball in the penalty area to allow Wiesbaden to clinch a 2-1 victory in the 97th minute through Philipp Tietz’s spot-kick.

It was a frustrating result for Stuttgart, who fell behind Hamburg in the race for promotion, dropping down to third with eight games to play.