Goals from Jae-sung Lee and Moussa Niakhate made sure Mainz maintained their fine home form this season as visiting Hoffenheim suffered one more setback.
Mainz 2-0 Hoffenheim
Goals: 1-0 Lee 79' (assist: Onisiwo), 2-0 Niakhate 83' (pen.)
Mainz may have edged the pre-game form guide going into this encounter - winning two of the teams' previous three meetings and drawing the other - but it was Hoffenheim who presented the earliest goal threat at the MEWA Arena. Eager to put the brakes on a three-game losing streak, Sebastian Hoeneß's men went close to opening the scoring in the fourth minute when Georginio Rutter headed against a post. Smarting from a shock reverse to basement boys Greuther Fürth last time out, the 05ers eventually gathered themselves and began to show why they were the division's fourth-best side at home prior to this Matchday 21 game. Jonathan Burkardt was on target in the reverse fixture back in September - a 2-0 Mainz win - and the forward had the ball in the net again in this game, but his breakaway effort on the quarter-hour was ruled out for offside. Undeterred, the Germany Under-21 international continued to seek an opening, his 24th-minute pull back clawed away to safety by Robin Zentner, who later looked on in relief as the Mainz man headed over an Aaron Martin cross.
Responding to coach Hoeneß's half-time words, the Sinsheimers stepped up a level after the restart and soon laid siege to the home goal. David Raum menaced down the left before picking out Munas Dabbur whose powerful header cracked the inside of the upright before bouncing away to safety. Still Hoffenheim came, Andrej Kramaric this time sending a tasty outside-of-the-boot effort at the target which Robin Zentner tipped wide. Their frustration at being hemmed in showing, the hosts wrestled their way back into a game that soon became a superb end-to-end affair. Anton Stach's long-range blast forced Oliver Baumann into a dramatic two-handed save but there was no chance for the visiting keeper later on when substitute Jae-sung Lee rounded off a super move with an unstoppable shot that fizzed in off the crossbar. When Dennis Geiger was then adjudged to have handled in the area, the game was up for Hoffenheim who saw Moussa Niakhate send his spot kick high into the net to keep Mainz well in touch with the European spots.
- Jae-sung Lee scored his fourth goal of the season and his first as as a substitute
- This was Mainz's fourth consecutive home win, a feat they last achieved under coach Thomas Tuchel eight years ago.
- Current Mainz boss, Bo Svensson, has never lost a Bundesliga match against Hoffenheim as a coach or player (seven wins, one draw).
- Hoffenheim suffered their 100th away loss in the Bundesliga.
- Moussa Niakhate scored his second Bundesliga penalty.
- Hoffenheim have conceded eight goals scored by substitutes this season. Only Greuther Fürth have shipped more in this category.
Mainz: Zentner - Hack, Bell, Niakhate (c) - Widmer, Barreiro (Kohr 67'), Boetius (Lee 67'), Stach (Stöger 89'), Martin - Onisiwo (Szalai 87'), Burkardt (Burgzorg 87')
Unused subs: Dahmen, Brosinski, Lucoqui, Nemeth
Out: Ingvartsen (groin), Tauer (groin)
Coach: Bo Svensson
Hoffenheim: Baumann - Posch (Nordtveit 63'), Vogt, Hübner (c) (Grillitsch 62') - Bebou (Bruun Larsen 84'), Geiger, Stiller (Asllani 84'), Raum – Kramaric - Rutter, Dabbur (Baumgartner 62')
Unused subs: Philipp, Samassekou, Haider, Bischof
Out: Akpoguma (thigh), Bicakcic (knee), John (not included), Kaderabek (thigh), Richards (foot), Rudy (suspended), Skov (thigh)
Coach: Sebastian Hoeneß
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