Second-half goals from Alejandro Grimaldo and Jonas Hofmann secured a 3-0 win for Bayer Leverkusen over Mainz, lifting them top of the Bundesliga standings.
Xabi Alonso's men knew prior to kick-off that even a draw could be enough to see them leapfrog Borussia Dortmund into top spot, at least for a few hours, but they were eager to continue their strong start to the campaign that had seen them win four of their opening five league matches. However, during the first half, they came up against a stubborn Mainz outfit who were in no mood to roll over. In fact, Die Werkself were reduced to zero shots on target, although that didn't stop them moving into a half-time lead, albeit fortuitously as Sepp van den Berg turned Jeremie Frimpong's cross into his own net. The hosts, meanwhile, tested Lukáš Hrádecký twice, but the Leverkusen captain was equal to Karim Onisiwo's header and Brajan Gruda's low drive.
An aerial Onisiwo posed the first danger for the visitors after the interval but again, Hrádecký came to the rescue as he tipped the forward's effort over the crossbar. In hindsight, that stop was particularly crucial as, just a few minutes later, Leverkusen doubled their advantage. Grimaldo's wonderful free-kick in the 2-2 draw with Bayern during Matchday 4 remains fresh in the fresh in the memory, and he showed that was no fluke as he curled another set-piece beyond Robin Zentner and into the top corner. The left-back's strike took the pressure of him and his teammates and, before too long, they were three to the good. On this occasion, Hofmann was the goalscorer, directing an effort with the outside of his boot into the net. Only a Zentner save from Victor Boniface as the striker bore down on goal prevented a fourth, although the outcome was already decided by that point. The result is a further example of Leverkusen's title credentials, while Mainz remain bottom of the table with just one point to their name.
- Van den Berg's own goal was his first in the Bundesliga and Mainz's first since January 2022.
- Mainz have now conceded at least once in their last 14 Bundesliga matches. Only once before have they gone longer without a clean sheet: 16 matches, May to December 2019.
- For just the second time since their promotion in 2010, Die Nullfünfer have failed to win any of their first six matches.
- Only Boniface (8), has been involved in more league goals than Hofmann (5) for Leverkusen this campaign.
- Leverkusen now have 16 points after their first six Bundesliga games, a new club record.
- The 20 goals they have scored during that run is also unprecedented for the North-Rhine-Westphalia outfit.
Watch: Xhaka: "I knew Grimaldo would score that free-kick"
Mainz: Zentner (c) - Bell, Kohr, van den Berg - Da Costa (El Ghazi 69'), Barreiro, Kohr (Krauß 69'), Caci - Gruda (Ajorque 76'), Lee (Barkok 69') - Onisiwo (Richter 84')
Unused subs: Batz, Guilavogui, Papela,
Out: Burkardt (knee), Hanche-Olsen (ankle), Leitsch (knee), Mwene (knee), Weiper (hamstring), Widmer (ankle)
Coach: Bo Svensson
Leverkusen: Hrádecký (c) - Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba - Frimpong (Stanišić 87'), Palacios, Xhaka (Andrich 79'), Grimaldo - Hofmann (Amiri 87'), Wirtz (Adli 64')- Boniface (Hložek 79')
Unused subs: Kovář, Hincapié, Puerta, Tella
Out: Arthur (thigh), Fosu-Mensah (knee), Mbamba (knee), Schick (groin)
Coach: Xabi Alonso
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