Goals in quick succession from Nicolai Müller and Andreas Ivanschitz gave the hosts an early two goal cushion, before Per Nilsson pulled one back just before half time. Despite both sides attacking flat-out after the interval, neither was able to find the net again as Mainz moved into the European places for the first time this season.
Perhaps as a reward for the home crowd's patience after kick-off was put back ten minutes due to traffic delays, Müller opened the scoring just twelve minutes in. The 25-year-old winger shrugged off Marvin Plattenhardt and advanced unhindered to the right-hand edge of the penalty area, before beating Nuremberg's stand-in keeper Patrick Rakovsky with a low drive into the far corner.
The goal gave the hosts a lift and as they pushed for a second, their attacking intent soon paid off. Julian Baumgartlinger's superb first-time through ball released Ivanschitz, who expertly rounded Rakovsky before rolling the ball over the line for 2-0 with 21 minutes on the clock.
Nuremberg fight back
The home side continued to dominate, but Nuremberg had far from given up and almost closed the deficit when Tomas Pekhart's near post header flew narrowly wide. Hiroshi Kiyotake followed it up with a superb long-range strike which Christian Wetklo only just managed to keep out, and the Japanese star's wicked free-kick caused panic in the Mainz box as Pekhart headed dangerously across the goal line.
Kiyotake's next set-piece did bring the visitors back into the game with Nilsson the beneficiary, rising to thump a header past Wetklo for his first goal of the season.
Hosts secure victory
That breakthrough, only Nuremberg's ninth goal of the season, spurred the guests on to continue attacking after the break. With the hosts also determined to bolster their lead an attacking to-and-fro ensured. Mainz defender Jan Kirchhoff went closest to adding to the scoreline, but his header from Müller's corner ricocheted off the bar and off Rakovsky's shoulder before being cleared.
With time running out, Nuremberg coach Dieter Hecking put all his cards on the table, making a triple substitution in an attempt to freshen up his attack, but in the latter stages Mainz were happy to keep possession in midfield without pushing for a third, a tactic which ultimately paid off as the 05ers held on for victory.
Line-ups and statistics