Wasteful Leverkusen held by Mainz

Leverkusen - 1. FSV Mainz 05 rode their luck to earn a 0-0 draw at Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who squandered a hatful of chances at the BayArena on Saturday afternoon.

Chances at both ends

The visitors had goalkeeper Loris Karius to thank for keeping the score goalless in the first half, and that pattern of play continued after the restart as die Werkself were thwarted time and again by the Mainz stopper and were ultimately forced to settle for a point apiece.

Leverkusen, who recorded their third straight UEFA Champions League victory at FC Zenit in midweek, made most of the early running at the BayArena, but Heung-Min Son and Karim Bellarabi both failed to hit the target with speculative efforts. Despite die Werkself’s territorial advantage, it was the visitors who went closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening 20 minutes when Yunus Malli dragged a shot wide from deep inside the penalty area.

Kasper Hjulmand’s side appeared to be growing in confidence as the game progressed and only a last-ditch tackle from Emir Spahic on Jairo prevented the Spain Under-21 international from getting his shot away with 20 minutes on the clock. At the other end, Julian Baumgartlinger had to be at full alert to deflect another Bellarabi effort wide of Karius’ right-hand post.

Leverkusen take control

The hosts continued to carve out the lion’s share of the chances, though, and Stefan Kießling was soon denied by a fine double save from Karius after a mazy run down the right-hand side by Julian Brandt, before a cheeky back-heel from the 18-year-old wonderkid rolled wide of the post. The final minutes of the half saw a powerful Kießling header cleared off the line as the teams went into the break on level terms.

Set-piece specialist Hakan Calhanoglu went close with two free-kicks in the early stages of the second half. The first, a good 40 yards from goal, missed the target by some distance, but Karius was relieved to see the second curl just past his near post. A third Calhanoglu shot moments later, this time from open play, also failed to trouble the 21-year-old stopper.

Unbeatable Karius

Mainz were now offering next to nothing as an attacking threat, while Leverkusen continued to pepper the away goal. However, a combination of wayward finishing and more fine goalkeeping from Karius kept the score goalless. With the clock ticking down, Roger Schmidt threw on Josip Drmic and Australia international Robbie Kruse in the hope of giving his charges fresh impetus in the final third.

Karius pulled off his best save of the match by clawing yet another Calhanoglu effort wide with ten minutes remaining, before Kruse was denied at the near post by more last-ditch defending from the visitors, who remain without a win in the league since Matchday 8, but will no doubt be the happier of the two sides with a share of the spoils.

Line-ups and statistics

Matthew Howarth