Yunus Malli took his season's tally into double figures with a brace as 1. FSV Mainz 05 defeated Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3-1 on Sunday.
Malli had already had a shot blocked by Andre Ramalho and forced a good save from Bernd Leno before he opened the scoring. The latter thwarted opportunity might have been finished off by Jhon Cordoba had he not dallied, allowing Roberto Hilbert to block. When through one-on-one with Leno once again - courtesy of a majestically crafted ball in behind Jonathan Tah by Pablo de Blasis - Malli did not need any back-up as his deft dinked finish found the net.
The visitors reached the UEFA Europa League Last 16 in midweek, but it was Mainz who made the most positive forward strides before the break, and when Wendell's miscued header found Cordoba, he dispatched a crisp shot past Leno from the edge of the box.
Leno denied Cordoba early in the second half, but was soon beaten again by Malli, who clinically tucked away the spot-kick awarded after half-time substitute Tin Jedvaj had blocked a shot from Mainz's top scorer with his arm. 'Chicharito' headed home from close range after Admir Mehmedi had helped on a Hakan Calhanoglu free-kick, but Leverkusen were unable to build on that as Mainz held on for a deserved win.
Man of the Match
Two goals and a threat throughout, could it have been anyone else but Malli?
Leverkusen looked sluggish and short of ideas going forward. If this is how they play after a testing European game, will they be able to maintain their top-four challenge?
- Mainz are unbeaten in six home games, winning five of them.
- Bayer have now suffered eight losses this term, more than they suffered in the entirety of last season.
- 'Chicharito' has 14 goals in 19 Bundesliga games this term.
- Malli's strikes ended an eight-game goal drought for the midfielder, who has ten goals this season.
- Mainz's Fabian Frei made his first start since Matchday 3
Mainz: Karius - Donati, Balogun, Bungert, Bussmann - Baumgartlinger (c), Frei - De Blasis (Clemens 72'), Malli (Serdar 87'), Jairo (Brosinski 88') - Cordoba
Leverkusen: Leno (c) - Hilbert, Tah (Jedvaj 46'), Ramalho, Wendell - Bellarabi, Kramer, Calhanoglu, Brandt (Kruse 65') - Hernandez, Mehmedi (Henrichs 86')