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25.09.2021Bundesliga

Wirtz secures 1-0 win against Mainz

A brilliantly created goal for Florian Wirtz gave the Werkself a 1-0 win over Mainz. Bayer 04 deserved the victory thanks to a vastly improved second-half performance to climb up to second place for the time being.
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“Even though the result was tight, you can’t do more than win,” said a pleased Kerem Demirbay after the final whistle. “Mainz were very deep in the first half and were waiting for us to make mistakes. We had to remain patient, and we did that very well in the second half.”

Bayer 04 coach Gerardo Seoane made just one change from the previous 3-1 win over VfB Stuttgart, which saw Demirbay replace the suspended Robert Andrich. As was the case last weekend, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Edmond Tapsoba, Julian Baumgartlinger, Exequiel Palacios and Niklas Lomb all missed out through injury.

It was the attacking firepower of the Werkself, who had scored seven goals in the first 15 minutes of games this season, against a Mainz side who boasted the league’s tightest defence alongside Wolfsburg with just two goals conceded. They had kept four clean sheets in five games prior to this meeting between fourth and fifth. The hosts started on the front foot and a cross from Moussa Diaby inside the third minute fizzed past everyone. Mainz defended as usual they usually do with a back five as they looked to compact the space inside their own half.

Hradecky tested twice early on

The visitors then created the first chances of note. Bayer 04 youth product Dominik Kohr – making his 200th Bundesliga appearance – got a shot away on the spin from six yards but Lukas Hradecky flung out an arm just in time to deny him – as he did again against Stefan Bell from the ensuing corner. With the dangerous opening quarter of an hour gone, Mainz had been as tough as expected and managed to keep the Werkself away from their goal.

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Diaby offside for schick’s goal

Leverkusen lacked their usual precision in build-up play and gave away the ball unnecessarily a number of times. After a quick attack through Jeremie Frimpong and Diaby, the right-back first struck the post before Patrik Schick put the ball over the line on the rebound in the 24th minute, but Diaby had been in an offside position beforehand.

An effort by Wirtz about 20 yards out flew just wide on 33 minutes. The Germany international has averaged a hand in a goal every 30 minutes this season, so he was almost due a goal there. A powerful hit from Mitchel Bakker was thwarted by Mainz goalkeeper Robin Zentner. Bayer 04 had to work hard for their chances, with much of the action coming down the right through the tireless Frimpong. But it went into the break goalless at the BayArena.

The hosts upped the ante after the restart as they pushed for the opener. Wirtz teed up Diaby, but his right-footed effort was blocked by Bell’s leg. The France international then had another attempt bound for the corner denied by Zentner only moments later, before the Mainz keeper later held Karim Bellarabi’s shot. Schick also failed to find a way through when he met Bellarabi’s cross.

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Wirtz coolly for the lead

The Werkself were really in charge at this point with wave after wave of attack going towards the Mainz goal. Seoane made his first change by bringing on Amine Adli for Bellarabi on the hour mark. Bayer 04 were then finally rewarded for their endeavours when Wirtz exchanged a one-two with Frimpong in a tight space before putting the ball into the far corner to open the scoring on 61 minutes. His 10th Bundesliga goal – and fourth this season – sees the 18-year-old succeed Lukas Podolski as the youngest player to reach double figures in Germany’s top flight. Adli had a goal disallowed for offside before Piero Hincapie replaced Odilon Kossounou in the centre of defence.

Schick narrowly missed out on doubling the advantage after fine work from Wirtz before Hincapie denied Marcus Ingvartsen an equaliser with 13 minutes to go. It was the first time Mainz had managed to carve out a chance in the second half against a vastly superior Leverkusen side. Wirtz fired over after interplay with Adli in his last involvement of the day as he went off with Schick and Diaby to be replaced by Lucas Alario, Nadiem Amiri and Paulinho.

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hradecky’s excellent stop

Hradecky made a smart stop from Anton Stach in the 85th minute, while Adli didn’t really trouble Zentner at the other end. But the Werkself captain was called upon one final time to save the points as he showed lightning reactions to deny Ingvartsen’s close-range header with the clock approaching 90. Paulinho missed a chance to wrap things up in added time, but it didn’t matter as the Werkself claimed three deserved points at the BayArena.

Bayer 04 return to European action during the week for their second Europa League group game away at Celtic on Thursday (kick-off 9pm CEST). The next Bundesliga matchday sees Seoane’s side travel to Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday, 3 October (7.30pm).

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Match stats:

Bayer 04: Hradecky – Frimpong, Kossounou (Hincapie 66’), Tah, Bakker – Aránguiz, Demirbay – Bellarabi (Adli 60’), Wirtz (Amiri 82’), Diaby (Paulinho 82’) – Schick (Alario 82’)

Mainz: Zentner – Widmer, Bell (Nebel 90’+1), St. Juste – Brosinski, Barreiro (Stach 66’), Kohr (Lee 75’), Boetius (Stöger 75’), Lucoqui – Burkardt, Onisiwo (Ingvartsen 66’)

Goal: 1-0 Wirtz (61’)

Referee: Bastian Dankert (Rostock)

Yellow cards: Tah, Diaby, Bakker, Alario – Lucoqui, Stach, Lee

Attendance: 16,624

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