Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scored a hat-trick as Bayer 04 Leverkusen twice came from behind to seal a 3-2 win over 1. FSV Mainz 05 at the Opel Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Mainz lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, happy to sit back and hit Leverkusen on the counter. The tactic looked to be working just past the half-hour when the 05ers won the ball back with a sea of black shirts in their half before Levin Öztunali selflessly squared for Yunus Malli to tap home from metres out. The hosts' advantage lasted all of a minute, though, with Charles Aranguiz picking out Chicharito, who lifted the ball high into Jonas Lössl's net. Mainz nonetheless took a lead into the interval after Stefan Bell bundled home Malli's corner.
Hitherto tactically outsmarted by namesake Martin, Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt brought Stefan Kießling on for Admir Mehmedi just past the hour, and the former Germany striker had an instant impact, nodding the ball down to Chicharito who doubled his tally after a wicked deflection. The pair nearly combined for what looked like the winner inside the final ten minutes when Chicharito helped Kießling's over-the-shoulder shot onto the post, but he refused to be denied, tapping home Jonathan Tah's knock-on at the death to seal all three points.
Mainz need to shore up their defence if they are to qualify for Europe once again this season. Martin Schmidt's men were 4-1-up against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim two weeks ago before the Sinsheim club battled back to 4-4, and this was another victory that could have been theirs.
- Chicharito's hat-trick means he has scored five goals in three games against the 05ers. He has plundered more goals against Mainz than any other Bundesliga club.Leverkusen completed 350 passes to Mainz's 138.Malli's goal was his 18th home goal in the Bundesliga for Mainz, seeing him pull level Mohamed Zidan's club record.