Werkself run ends with 3-2 defeat at Mainz

Bayer 04 lost a game for the first time in the second half of the season: After a run of four wins in succession, the Werkself were on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline away to Mainz. Patrik Schick (35'), who later went off injured, and Lucas Alario (74') scored to take the lead twice but Mainz hit back decisively in the closing stages of a tightly fought encounter with goals from Jean-Paul Boetius (84') and Marcus Ingvartsen (88'). Aaron levelled earlier on at 1-1 on 57 minutes.

The Werkself captain was suitably downbeat after the final whistle. "It's an annoying defeat for us. We were not sharp enough with the second balls and we were happy to be able to lead 1-0 at half-time. At the crucial moments we were not on par with an aggressive opponent," said goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky. Robert Andrich took a similar view: "Mainz did very well and we definitely couldn’t complain about the result . We couldn't find any answers at the end."

Head coach Gerardo Seoane had to make one change for the game in Mainz: Left-back Mitchel Bakker was suspended after picking up a fifth yellow card in the 4-2 win against Stuttgart. Jonathan Tah had recovered from an infection in the previous week and he played in central defence alongside Edmond Tapsoba. Piero Hincapie played on the left of the back four. Otherwise, the Werkself coach started with the same players as against Stuttgart. In addition to Bakker, Bayer 04 missed the injured Karim Bellarabi and Andrey Lunev as well as the recovering Julian Baumgartlinger, Sardar Azmoun and Odilon Kossounou.

Mainz with the best defence in the league against Leverkusen with the second strongest attack in the top-flight, FSV with four wins on the bounce without conceding on their own turf, the Werkself with a run of four wins under their belt: The match under floodlights at the MEWA Arena promised to be an extremely interesting encounter. The hosts were first out of the blocks as they took on Leverkusen with aggression. The first chance the game fell to the Werkself: Kerem Demirbay hit a shot from the left but the ball was deflected just wide of the far post (6').


Hradecky shows his class

Shortly after that, Mainz had their first real chance in front of the Bayer 04 net: A shot on the turn from Jonathan Burkardt was blocked by Tah and then Hradecky pulled off a brilliant save to keep out a placed low drive from Anton Stach (12'). The FSV keeper Robin Zentner parried a curling shot from Andrich with Silvan Widmer then breaking clear only to be denied by Hradecky as he again pulled off an outstanding save (16'). It was an intense game from the start with no holds barred and plenty of challenges. A great move for the visitors involving Florian Wirtz, Patrik Schick and Andrich almost ended with a Mainz own goal (28’).


Schick makes it 20

Mainz then almost took the lead: A long clearance by Zentner reached Karim Onisiwo who caught Jeremie Frimpong off balance, Burkardt went through on a one-on-one with Hradecky before squaring the ball to Onisiwo but Hincapie intervened decisively – FSV went very close to scoring (30'). But the Werkself counter-attacked clinically: Demirbay put Schick through and his shot from around 25 yards out deflected off Moussa Niakhaté leaving Zentner on the wrong foot and the ball in the back of the net – 1-0 for the Werkself: goal number 20 of the season for the Czech striker (35'). Just before half-time, an attack down the left for Mainz saw Burkardt just fail to connect with his head on the six-yard box (42'). The Werkself were slightly fortunate to take their lead into the break.

The second half began with a setback: Schick picked up an injury off the ball and he hobbled off the pitch clutching his left calf. That was the end for the goalscorer and he was replaced by Lucas Alario (48'). Alario got straight into the game with Zentner saving his header from a Frimpong cross at the post. The equaliser for FSV came from a mistaken decision by referee Cortus: Demirbay clearly took the ball off the foot of Kohr fairly meaning neither the yellow card for the Leverkusen player nor the free kick were justified. That did not trouble Aaron at all as he put an unstoppable shot past Hradecky into the net at the near post – 1-1 (57').


Alario regains the lead in style

And the hosts quickly followed that up: Onisiwo flicked another free kick from Aaron into the far corner to make it 2-1 (60'). However, the goal was ruled out after the intervention of VAR because Niakhaté was in an offside position. That was some recompense after the unjustified free kick that led to the equaliser. Bayer 04 also posed a threat but Demirbay and Alario were unable to get the ball past Zentner (69'). Seoane then made a double change: Charles Aránguiz and Paulinho replaced Demirbay and Amine Adli (71'). And then there was collective joy on the Bayer 04 bench: Alario fired the ball in under the bar to make it 2-1 with Diaby setting up the Argentinian striker in the penalty area after good work by Aránguiz and Wirtz (74').

Chance for 3-1 goes begging

Mainz now looked susceptible and the Werkself gained in terms of solidity and superiority. Bayer 04 skilfully drew a lot of fouls in this phase and thereby generated a lot of possession. And they were on the verge of making it 3-1: Hincapie put Alario through and he tried to nutmeg the FSV keeper but Zentner put his feet together at the right moment (81'). That led to a response: Aránguiz was just able to make a save under pressure but Boetius put the ball in the top corner of the net – 2-2 (84'). Mainz were suddenly on top and Ingvartsen succeeded in turning the ball into the net from a melee (88'). The game ended shortly after that as Leverkusen left the pitch defeated for the first time this year

Bayer 04 entertain Arminia Bielefeld at the BayArena on Saturday 26 February with the kick-off on matchday 24 at 15.30 CET.

Match stats:

Mainz 05: Zentner – Bell, Hack, Niakhaté – Widmer, Stach (Barreiro 90+1’), Kohr (Boetius 82’), Aaron – Burkardt (Burgzog 82’), Lee (Stöger 69’) – Onisiwo (Ingvartsen 82’)
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Frimpong, Tah, Tapsoba, Hincapie – Andrich, Demirbay (Aránguiz 71’) – Diaby, Wirtz, Adli (Paulinho 71’) – Schick (Alario 48’)

Goals: 0-1 Schick (35’), 1-1 Aaron (57’), 1-2 Alario (74’), 2-2 Boetius (84’), 3-2 Ingvartsen (88’)

Booked: Aaron – Adli, Demirbay

Referee: Cortus (Röthenbach)

Attendance: 10,000

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