WATCH: KRUSE: "I COULD HAVE HAD FOUR!"
It's a deserved win for Wolfsburg, who ran riot in the first half and effectively put the match to bed before the interval. Mainz improved after the break, but the damage was already done by then. The result lifts the Wolves to 37 points, just two behind today's opponents. Both surely now are safe from relegation.
Speed check: The fastest player in the game after 90 minutes
Kohr slips in Onisiwo down the left and he gets a shot away, but Casteels makes himself big and produces another save!
The US youngster comes on for his second Bundesliga appearance.
Kohfeldt give Baku and Wind a breather, with Mbabu and Philipp coming on as like-for-like replacements.
FRESH LEGS UP TOP
Onisiwo comes on for Burkardt, who has had both of Mainz's best opportunities in this game, only to be denied by Casteels on each occasion.
BIALEK HAS A GO
Arnold whips a cross into the box from the left and finds Bialek, but his header lacks power and direction and it's an easy one in the end for Zentner.
The Mainz right wing-back shows a good burst of pace to get into the box, but he's crowded out by green shirts as he attempts to get the ball into the box.
CHANCE FOR YOUNGSTERS
With about 25 minutes left on the clock, coach Kohfeldt decides that he can give Bialek and Felix Nmecha a run out. Lukas Nmecha and Schlager are the players to make way.
© Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
To their credit, the away side are tying to play the ball out from the back and string some passes together. It's how Burkardt got his chance just a few moments ago, but they're struggling to make any headway into the Wolfsburg half.
WOLVES ON TOP
BURKARDT DENIED AGAIN!
A lapse in concentration from Gerhardt lets Burkardt in. He darts into the box on the right-hand side but doesn't have a teammate to cross to in the middle. He goes it alone but he powerful shot from a tight angle is well saved by Casteels.
WIND WANTS MORE
The ball is touched to Wind on the edge of the box and the attacker instantly gets a shot away. It's rising, but Zentner is worried enough to tip it over for a corner.
UNDER WAY AGAIN
The ball is rolling once more. Mainz boss Svensson has shown his displeasure with his team's first-half display by making four changes at the break.
THE RIGHT RESPONSE
Wolfsburg boss Kohfeldt demanded a reaction from his players following the heavy defeat in Dortmund last week - and boy has he got one. The sending off has not helped Mainz's cause, but the Wolves have been ruthless in front of goal. Barring a miraculous comeback in the second half, this win would take the home side up to 11th place on 37 points, eight clear of Stuttgart in the relegation play-off spot. They wouldn't be mathematically safe yet, but very nearly there.
It's a game to forget for Mainz as Kruse gets his hat-trick. Gerhardt's cross from the left goes all the way through to the unmarked Kruse at the back post, and the veteran forward makes no mistake.
Mainz struggle to clear a ball into the box and it falls kindly for Wind, who tucks it home on the turn with his right foot from close range.
The Wolves have been absolutely clinical so far today, and have more goals than they (statistically) have any right to.
AHEAD OF THE CURVE
KRUSE AT THE DOUBLE
© Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Situation No penalty
Decision No penalty
NAIL IN THE COFFIN?
Baku with an exquisite volley on the right, controlling a high diagonal ball first time with a cross into the box. Kruse arrives at the back post to volley in low past Zentner for his second of the game.
WOLVES HUNGRY FOR MORE
A comfortable 2-0 lead established, the hosts are looking determined to put this game to bed as soon as possible by pressing home their numerical advantage. It's all one-way traffic towards the Mainz goal right now.
Speed check: The fastest player in the game after 30 minutes
BIG SAVE FROM ZENTNER
Wolfsburg carve Mainz apart with some quick passing and the ball is played to Nmecha. He only has Zentner to beat as he shoots from 15 yards out, but the Mainz stopper comes up with a big block.
Mainz are behind away from home for the 13th time this season. They've only managed to take a single point from any of those previous 12 encounters, a 1-1 draw in Gladbach on Matchday 28. But they did that with all 11 players on the pitch...
The Wolfsburg forward sends Zentner the wrong way, the Mainz keeper diving low to his left, leaving Kruse too coolly slot the ball in the opposite corner.
MAINZ DOWN TO 10 MEN
Following a VAR review, the referee has shown Tauer a straight red card for his foul on Nmecha.
PENALTY TO WOLFSBURG!
Kruse brings down a long ball over the top brilliantly, flicking it into Nmecha's path first time. He's tugged down by Tauer, and Wolfsburg have a penalty...
Situation No red card
Decision Red card
The Mainz captain is the most assured passer on the pitch so far...
NIAKHATE CALLING THE SHOTS
HUGE SAVE FROM CASTEELS!
Burkardt with a glorious chance to level the score after shrugging off a challenge to bear down on the box and go one-on-one with Casteels. The Belgian keeper makes a vital save though, to keep the Wolves in front.
© Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
WIND IN THEIR SAILS
The hosts have understandably been buoyed by taking the lead and are looking for more. They're harrying Mainz quickly whenever they get the ball and are getting forward with great purpose.
CAN MAINZ RESPOND?
Bo Svensson's side have been hugely impressive on home turf this season, but on the road it's a different story, where they've taken just eight points from 15 games all term.
Baku crosses into the box from the right and finds Nmecha at the near post. His back-heeled effort hits the upright, cannons onto Zentner's foot and falls kindly for Wind, who is left with the simplest of tap-ins from close range.
PROMISING FROM WOLFSBURG
The game is still very much settling down, but there have been a couple of promising passages of play from the home side, who linked up well with some quick, first-time passing. They'll take confidence from that, particularly after last week's heavy defeat in Dortmund.
There's been lots of high balls, midfield tackles and throw-ins so far as the teams seek to set the tone early on.
AND WE'RE OFF!
Wolfsburg get the ball rolling on Matchday 31!
TEAM NEWS - WOLFSBURG
Wolfsburg boss Florian Kohfeldt has not made wholesale changes in the wake of his side's 6-1 humbling in Dortmund last week. Indeed, there is only one new face, as Jerome Roussillon replaces the suspended Maxence Lacroix. That could mean the Wolves switch from a three-man defence to a back four, with Roussillon on the left and Baku on the right.
WATCH: WINDY IN WOLFSBURG
TEAM NEWS - MAINZ
Head coach Bo Svensson has made two changes to his team following last week's goalless draw against Stuttgart. Marcus Ingvartsen gets the nod ahead of Karim Onisiwo up front alongside Jonathan Burkardt; Onisiwo is given a breather after starting every game since Matchday 6. In midfield, Dominik Kohr begins among the substitutes, with Leandro Barreiro taking his place in the side.
WATCH: THE WOLVES ARRIVE AT THE VOLKSWAGEN ARENA
WOLFSBURG STARTING XI
Casteels (c) - Baku, Bornauw, Brooks, Roussillon - Schlager, Arnold, Gerhardt - Wind, Kruse - L. Nmecha
Pervan, Mbabu, Vranckx, Steffen, F. Nmecha, Paredes, Philipp, Bialek, Lukebakio
MAINZ STARTING XI
Zentner - Tauer, Bell, Niakhate (c) - Widmer, Stach, Barreiro, Lucoqui - Boetius - Ingvartsen, Burkardt
Dahmen, Martin, Brosinski, Nemeth, Hack, Stöger, Papela, Kohr, Onisiwo
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING - WOLFSBURG
“Mainz have been on a great path for the last year and play with great intensity and physicality," said Florian Kohfeldt at his media briefing ahead of the game. "They’ve done brilliantly to steer clear of the relegation battles they had in recent years, and have carried on their momentum this season. We’re going up against a team who aggressively defend on the front foot and are very good with the ball in transition, while they’ve got a lot of power up front. We will have to compete with that and we will.”
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING - MAINZ
Mainz head coach Bo Svensson is wary of facing Wolfsburg today, despite some inconsistent form of late. "You just have to look at their squad," he said at his pre-match press conference. "They have enormous quality, but they haven't quite lived up to expectations this season. However, they play good football and are a capable team, so it will be a tough test."
Mainz's victory earlier this season was their second in succession over the Wolves, having also triumphed 3-2 at the Volkswagen Arena at the end of last term. Overall, however, Mainz have taken maximum points just eight times from 31 games against Wolfsburg, who have won on 12 occasions (11 draws).
WATCH: PREVIOUS MEETING: MAINZ 3-0 WOLFSBURG
Mainz can reach the mythical 40-point mark today with a draw, the milestone that traditionally guarantees Bundesliga survival. They're in ninth place going into the weekend at any rate, so relegation is not an imminent threat. It is more of a worry for Wolfsburg though, who are in 13th place on 34 points, just six above the relegation play-off spot. Victory would go a long way to giving them some much-needed breathing space in the final few games of the season.
WATCH: A GOAL-FILLED FIXTURE
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