Substitutes Jean-Paul Boetius and Marcus Ingvartsen scored late - after an Aaron Martin free-kick - as Mainz twice came from behind to beat Bayer Leverkusen in a five-goal thriller at the MEWA Arena.
Leverkusen came into Matchday 23 with the Bundesliga’s second most prolific attack but actually found themselves under constant pressure from a Mainz side hoping to move from ninth into the European places. Lukas Hradecky did really well to react and keep out a sweetly struck Anton Stach effort before also denying Silvan Widmer from a tight angle. The 05ers looked certain to take the lead on the half-hour mark after Jonathan Burkardt found himself in behind after Robin Zentner’s long punt. The Germany U21 captain attempted to square for strike partner Karim Onisiwo, but the ball went through the legs of the Austrian. Die Werkself had seen a Kerem Demirbay effort flicked wide and Robert Andrich’s curling effort easily repelled by Zentner but will admit themselves they were fortunate to take a lead into half-time after Patrik Schick’s speculative effort from almost 25 yards out took a telling deflection off Alexander Hack to wrongfoot the Mainz goalkeeper.
Leverkusen’s 20-goal top scorer only lasted a few minutes of the second half, however, as he hobbled off to be replaced by Lucas Alario, who was immediately into the action but failed to trouble Zentner with a header. Yet it was the hosts who struck back to level things through a superb Martin free-kick, bending his shot through a cracking Leverkusen wall to leave Hradecky stranded. The Spaniard then looked to have helped complete the turnaround when he swung in a free-kick that Onisiwo headed in, but it was chalked off on review as Moussa Niakhate was in an offside position and interfering with play. To rub salt into the wound, the visitors would go on to take the lead again themselves when Alario latched onto a heavy touch from Moussa Diaby and lashed it high past Zentner. But the 05ers didn’t take it lying down and one of their own substitutes, Boetius, volleyed a miscued clearance sweetly into the top corner. And Bo Svensson’s side got the result their efforts probably deserved when Ingvartsen – another man off the bench – took advantage of a pinball in the box to poke home a late winner.
- Schick has 20 goals in as many Bundesliga games this season. No Leverkusen player has ever had so many after 23 matchdays.
- The Czech striker is also only the second non-German to score 20 times in a Bundesliga campaign for Die Werkself, after Dimitar Berbatov (20 in 2004/05 and 21 in 2005/06).
- Martin got his first Bundesliga goal in his 79th game. It was the first direct free-kick scored by Mainz in the league since Levin Öztunali away at Ingolstadt on 2 April 2017.
- Boetius got his second goal of the season as a substitute. Ingvartsen has got two of his three in 2021/22 from the bench.
- Mainz have now won their last five Bundesliga home games to equal the club record set under Thomas Tuchel in 2009.
- The 05ers got their first victory over Leverkusen since 2017, ending an eight-game winless run in this fixture (D1, L7).
Watch: Bo Svensson - "I was screaming at Aaron not to shoot!"
Mainz: Zentner - Bell, Hack, Niakhate (c) - Widmer, Stach (Barreiro 90’+1), Kohr (Boetius 82’), Martin - Lee (Stöger 69’) – Onisiwo (Ingvartsen 82’), Burkardt (Burgzorg 82’)
Unused subs: Rieß, Brosinski, Nemeth, Tauer
Out: St. Juste (shoulder)
Coach: Bo Svensson
Leverkusen: Hradecky (c) - Frimpong, Tah, Tapsoba, Hincapie - Andrich, Demirbay (Aranguiz 71’) - Diaby, Wirtz, Adli (Paulinho 71’) - Schick (Alario 48’)
Unused subs: Grill, Lomb, Sinkgraven, Fosu-Mensah, Palacios
Out: Azmoun (knee), Bakker (suspended), Baumgartlinger (knee), Bellarabi (hamstring), Kossounou (hamstring)
Coach: Gerardo Seoane
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