Ihlas Bebou came off the bench to grab the only goal of the game as Hoffenheim kept their European hopes alive with a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Mainz.
Mainz 0-1 Hoffenheim
Goals: 0-1 Bebou (43')
Hoffenheim began the day in seventh, a point behind Wolfsburg in the final European spot, and 11 better off than their 15th-placed hosts, who were just one above Fortuna Düsseldorf in the promotion-relegation play-off place. Accordingly, Alfred Schreuder's men started on the front foot and Robert Skov stung Florian Müller's gloves with an early free-kick. Hoffenheim's teenaged debutant Melayro Bogarde was then booked for a mistimed challenge, but the Sinsheimers kept pouring forward and earned a penalty midway through the half when Christoph Baumgartner was hauled down by Alexander Hack. Steven Zuber had his spot-kick saved by the irrepressible Müller, though. Robin Quaison was a lick of paint away from making Hoffenheim pay for their profligacy when his free-kick bounced back off the inside of Oliver Baumann's post, but the visitors carried a deserved lead into the break after Bebou - minutes after replacing the struggling Jacob Bruun Larsen - tucked away his fourth goal of the campaign.
Both sides rang the changes at the interval, with Hoffenheim bringing defenders Ermin Bicakcic and Kevin Akpoguma on for Zuber and Bogarde respectively, while Mainz introduced Karim Onisiwo, Daniel Brosinski and Levin Öztunali for Jean-Paul Boetius, Hack and Jean-Philippe Mateta. Hoffenheim remained on the front foot, though, and Munas Dabbur forced another good save from Müller early on. Despite the flow of second-half traffic, Taiwo Awoniyi thought he had fired Mainz back onto level terms just past the hour, but he was denied his second goal of the season with Baumann adjudged to have been fouled in the build-up. Skov was effervescent throughout, and was close to laying on a second goal for second-half substitute Maximilian Beier, but the young striker fired off target. Beier - scorer of 10 goals in 15 games for the U19s this season - saw another shot saved by Müller and it ended 1-0.
- Bebou scored his fourth goal of the season and first since December's 2-0 win over Union Berlin.
- Bogarde - the nephew of former Ajax, AC Milan, Barcelona, Chelsea and Netherlands defender Winston - made his Bundesliga debut just two days past his 18th birthday.
- Seven first-half yellow cards - Sebastian Rudy, Diadie Samassekou (Hoffenheim) and Jeffrey Bruma, Ridle Baku, Leandro Barreiro and Boetius (Mainz) joined Bogarde in the book - is a Bundesliga joint-record.
- Müller's penalty save was his second in the Bundesliga. He had previously denied Filip Kostic in a goalless draw between Mainz and Hamburg in March 2018.
- This was Mainz's first loss to Hoffenheim in four games. The 05ers last suffered a reverse against the Sinheimers in February 2018. They had won the reverse fixture 5-1.
- Mainz coach Achim Beierlorzer lost his job as Cologne coach on the back of a 2-1 defeat to Hoffenheim, although he also oversaw the aforementioned 5-1 rout.
Mainz: Müller - Hack (Brosinski 46'), Bruma, Niakhate (c) - Baku, Fernandes, Barreiro (Kunde 76') - Boetius (Onisiwo 46') - Awoniyi, Mateta (Öztunali46'), Quaison (Szalai 76')
Unused subs: Dahmen, Martin, Ji, Mwene
Out: Latza (suspended), St. Juste (knee), Zentner (knee)
Coach: Achim Beierlorzer
Hoffenheim: Baumann (c) - Bogarde, Posch (Akpoguma 46'), Nordtveit, Zuber (Bicakcic 46') - Rudy, Samassekou, Baumgartner (Geiger 86') - Skov, Dabbur (Beier 72'), Bruun Larsen (Bebou 38')
Unused subs: Pentke, Ribeiro, Elmkies
Out: Adamyan (ankle), Belfodil (knee), Grillitsch (groin), Hübner (suspended), Kramaric (ankle), Stafylidis (muscular)
Coach: Alfred Schreuder