Germany: Bundesliga
3 - 2
(0 - 1)
Mainz 05
A. Martín (57), J. Boëtius (84), M. Ingvartsen (88)
P. Schick (35), L. Alario (74)
By Ultan Corcoran@UltanCorcoran

Super-sub Ingvartsen snatches dramatic winner for Mainz

Svensson's Mainz had a goal chalked off by VAR and came from behind twice to defeat Leverkusen 3-2 in thrilling encounter that had it all.
To open proceedings on Matchday 23, an atmospheric Mainz 05 welcomed in-form Bayer Leverkusen to the MEWA Arena. With only a few days to go before carnival season, the club from the Rhineland-Palatinate was in full party mode – Mainz players too wearing a special ‘Fastnacht Trikot’ or Carnival Kit, laden with several colours weaved into an eccentric, eye catching pattern. Leverkusen had been banging in goals prior to tonight - 14 in total during their last three Bundesliga games. Mainz, however, had been extremely solid at home to this point leaving tonight’s affair difficult to predict.

A lively start was made from both teams in the opening minutes. Demirbay had an early sniff at goal, while Mainz put a lot of pressure on their guests through deep crosses from the flanks. The hands of Hradecky absorbed every bit of Stach’s effort in the 13th minute, so to Zentner at the other end when he deflected a Robert Andrich shot. Chances were aplenty in those few hectic minutes, as Widmer also tested the Finnish star in goals.

A brilliant counter launched by a route one Zentner kick-out put Burkardt through just before the half hour. The German unselfishly attempted to feed his strike partner Onisiwo for a tap in, but the chance fizzled out instantaneously when he undercooked the pass. Nonetheless, Leverkusen struck first and in the most fortunate of manners at that. Schick’s twentieth goal of the campaign put his team 0-1 up when his long-range effort cruelly deflected off Niakhate’s knee and wrongfooted Zentner.

Despite leading the game after the restart, Seoane’s side did take an early blow on the injury front – goal scorer Patrik Schick couldn’t continue and was replaced by Alario. Mainz quickly pulled themselves level through the cultured left foot of Aaron Martin. Demirbay gave away the freekick and the Spaniard’s shot evaded the B04 wall and rippled the net for 1-1.

Svensson’s boys thought they turned the game on its head moments later, and once more Martin was involved when his freekick was headed home by Onisiwo. The home fans were soon to be disappointed when a somewhat harsh VAR decision ruled Niakhate to be offside despite not touching the ball on its way to Die Werkself’s net.

Even though Mainz were beginning to establish a real stranglehold on the affair, Leverkusen restored their lead and Alario was the man on hand to convert from 8 yards. Diaby managed to squeeze a ball into the feet of the substitute striker who blasted a shot high into the roof of the net just beyond the fingertips of shot stopper Zentner.

Continued Mainz pressure and the game’s running theme of crosses causing Leverkusen all sorts of bother, the home team finally got their just rewards to level matters 2-2. Substitute Boetius opened his body up to the breaking ball and placed a stunning volley beyond Hradecky who was grounded from the minute it left his boot.

In the closing sequences, Mainz's electric home crowd could sense something special was brewing despite being behind for large parts of the game. Having disrupted Leverkusen’s usually free flowing football practically all night, a final attack in the 88th minute led to a frantic scramble. Ingvartsen, only on the pitch a matter of minutes, managed to obtain possession and cushion a shot through a sea of B04 legs into the far corner of Hradecky’s net for a 3-2 lead.

Five minutes of injury time were added but it was Mainz who hung on for a memorable win in dramatic circumstances. M05 now climb to joint 4th in the table on 34 points with four other Bundesliga sides as the battle for Europe intensifies.

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