Second-half substitute Lucas Alario scored a 93rd-minute winner as Bayer Leverkusen overcame Mainz, despite having Wendell sent off.
Mainz 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Goals: 0-1 Alario (90+3')
Red cards: Wendell (71')
Following back-to-back defeats to Cologne and Hertha Berlin, Leverkusen were out to end 2019 on a positive note and the away side thought they had their noses in front after nine minutes, but Kevin Volland’s finish beyond Robin Zenter was rightly chalked off for offside. Moments later, the hosts were almost in front themselves, top scorer Robin Quaison - fresh off a hat-trick in the midweek demolition of Werder Bremen - firing narrowly wide after being superbly found by Aaron Martin. The Spaniard then crossed for Adam Szalai, whose outstretched right leg could only fire over. Szalai had a fine strike ruled out after Quaison was marginally offside in the build-up, as Mainz ended the first half without the goal their dominance so richly deserved.
Leverkusen again started brightly but struggled to bring young starlet Kai Havertz into the game, with Mainz untroubled for large parts. It looked as though Nadiem Amiri had found the spark Peter Bosz's side required after teeing up Volland to tap home, but the 23-year-old was adjudged to have handled in the build-up. Leverkusen's task was made tougher with just under 20 minutes to go as Wendell was sent off for a second booking. Jean-Philippe Mateta, a second-half substitute in place of Szalai, almost immediately made them pay but fired at the legs of Lukas Hradecky after turning the Leverkusen defence inside out. Mateta was again denied by the legs of Hradecky late on, before Alario popped up in injury time - prodding in after Robin Zentner had saved from Volland - to steal all three points.
- Leverkusen end the year in sixth place, two points outside the top four. They were seven points off the top-four pace at the halfway stage in 2018/19, prior to Peter Bosz's appointment as coach.
- Alario scored his fifth goal of the season.
- Volland is also on five goals, but leads the way for assists with six.
- The defeat was Mainz's 11th of the campaign. With six wins, they are the only team not to have been involved in a draw this season.
- Mainz have kept just one clean sheet in 17 Bundesliga games so far this season
- The 05ers have claimed nine points in six Bundesliga matches under Achim Beierlorzer - as many as they managed in Sandro Schwarz's final 11 matches at the helm.
Mainz: Zentner - Baku, Niakhate (c), Hack, Martin - Fernandes, Kunde - Öztunali, Boetius, Quaison (Onisiwo 87') - Szalai (Mateta 66')
Unused subs: Müller, Pierre-Gabriel, Maxim, Brosinski, Burkardt, Gürleyen, Barreiro Martins
Out: Bell (ankle), Latza (back), Ji (knee)
Coach: Achim Beierlorzer
Leverkusen: Hradecky - Retsos (Bellarabi 46'), Tah, S. Bender, Wendell - Aranguiz, Demirbay (Alario 81') - Havertz, Amiri, Diaby (Dragovic 74') - Volland (c)
Unused subs: Özcan, Paulinho, Pohjanpalo, Sinkgraven, Stanilewicz, Azhil
Out: Bailey (suspended), Weiser (ankle)
Coach: Peter Bosz