Praise poured in for Leverkusen's Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez (l.) after his goalscoring efforts away to Mainz. - © © gettyimages / Grimm
Praise poured in for Leverkusen's Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez (l.) after his goalscoring efforts away to Mainz. - © © gettyimages / Grimm

Chicharito the key as Bayer travel to Monaco in Champions League

"I've never seen a player who's as good in front of goal as Chicharito," enthused Bayer 04 Leverkusen striker Kevin Volland after his side's last-gasp 3-2 win away to 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday.

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Given that Volland is a member of the senior Germany side, reigning world champions no less, that is some statement. Yet it is easy to see why the 24-year-old was so effusive in his praise, with Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scoring all three goals as die Werkself recorded just their second Bundesliga win of the season.

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Chicharito's third, scored in the 92nd minute, was a classic poacher's goal after gliding into the box unnoticed and expertly guiding a header into the net. "We needed a win like that," added Volland, who was brought on as a second-half substitute alongside fellow striker Stefan Kießling as coach Roger Schmidt threw caution to the wind in an effort to overturn a 2-1 deficit. "That was the best half of football we've played this season," said captain Ömer Toprak, after Leverkusen denied Mainz any chances after the break.

The victory was a timely confidence booster ahead of the club's UEFA Champions League trip to Monaco on Tuesday, with a home game against Borussia Dortmund coming up next weekend too. "The win has done us the world of good," said sporting director Rudi Völler.

Watch: Chicharito reacts to his hat-trick heroics against Mainz

Chicharito himself said: "We played really well in the second half. We had a lot of intensity and that's the way we want to play every match. My hat-trick was perfect: one with the right foot, one with the left and one with my head." And with that he disappeared towards the team bus, bouncing the match ball he grabbed as a souvenir of his second Bundesliga treble.

The Mexico international had struggled to hit the ground running this term after breaking his hand in a domestic accident in pre-season. "He's gradually coming into top form," said Schmidt. "Although, four goals in five games isn't too bad! When he gets the chances, he puts them away." Indeed, if this is Chicharito not yet at his best, one can only fear for opposition defences once he really gets going.