Mainz had only taken five points from their previous five games coming into this fixture, and they started as if determined to make amends. John Cordoba had already gone one-on-one with Bernd Leno by the time Stefan Bell headed the visitors in front from a corner in the third minute. It went from bad to worse for the hosts shortly afterwards, when Levin Öztunali's free-kick deceived everyone in the box and bounced in at the far post.
That seemed to rouse Leverkusen, but although there was subsequently more urgency in their play, Die Werkself were unable to trouble Mainz goalkeeper Jonas Lössl before the break. The second half picked up where the first had left off, with Leverkusen seeing more possession but the robust Mainz backline keeping them at bay. Bayer coach Roger Schmidt brought on Stefan Kießling and Julian Brandt in an effort to find a way through, but ultimately Mainz were able to hold on for a rare away win.
Man of the Match
Öztunali was excellent on the right side of midfield, covering more ground than anyone else (12.10 kilometres), winning 53 per cent of all his challenges and scoring the crucial second goal to put the game beyond Leverkusen's reach.
Aside from the result, Mainz can take heart from an impressive performance at the BayArena to give them greater breathing space above the relegation places. For Leverkusen, it is another frustrating setback in their pursuit of European football next season
- Mainz's Bell scored for the fourth time this season – a personal best. Each of those goals have come from corners.
- Öztunali's goal means Mainz have now found the net 12 times from set pieces this season – more than any other Bundesliga side.
- Robin Quaison made his Bundesliga debut for Mainz in this game, becoming just the second Swede to play for the club.
Leverkusen: Leno - Jedvaj, Dragovic (Kießling 54'), Toprak, Henrichs - Bellarabi, Bender (Yurchenko 78') (c), Kampl, Volland – Havertz (Brandt 67'), Chicharito
Coach: Roger Schmidt
Mainz: Lössl - Donati, Bell (c), Ramalho, Bussmann – Latza, Frei - Öztunali, Muto (Samperio 89'), De Blasis (Quaison 76') – Cordoba (Gbamin 90+2')
Coach: Martin Schmidt