HomeBayer Leverkusen 2-1 Mainz: Alonso's men move 11 points clear

Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Mainz: Alonso’s men move 11 points clear


Bayer Leverkusen went 11 points clear of Bayern Munich at the Bundesliga summit with a huge 2-1 win over 10-man Mainz, with an error from visiting goalkeeper Robin Zentner handing Xabi Alonso’s team victory.

Leverkusen made a flying start to Friday’s game at the BayArena as Granit Xhaka looped an audacious shot into the far corner, but it was 1-1 within seven minutes as Dominik Kohr headed an equaliser against his former club.

Just as it looked like Mainz may hold out to do Bayern a huge favour in the title race, Robert Andrich’s long-range drive slipped through Zentner’s grasp and in with just over 20 minutes to play, moving Leverkusen one step closer to their first Bundesliga title.

Jessic Ngankam’s late red card killed any hopes of a second Mainz fightback, pilling the pressure on Bayern ahead of their clash with RB Leipzig on Saturday.

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Leverkusen needed just three minutes to hit the front, with Xhaka scoring his first Bundesliga goal since 2015. Alex Grimaldo’s cross deflected to the left corner of the Mainz area, from which Xhaka looped a wonderful effort over Zentner and in.

However, Mainz were back on terms within four further minutes, Kohr adjusting to head into the top-right corner after Silvan Widmer stayed onside to nod Nadiem Amiri’s deep free-kick across goal.

Jonas Hofmann and Grimaldo both forced excellent saves from Zentner before the first half was through, while Alonso was furious when Jeremie Frimpong appeared to be tripped by last man Phillipp Mwene on the stroke of half-time.

Mainz started the second period strongly and missed two good chances as Mwene headed wide and Lee Jae-sung fired over after intercepting Edmond Tapsoba’s pass, then Amine Adli nodded just wide after the hour mark.

However, Leverkusen got a huge slice of fortune as they reestablished their lead after 68 minutes, with Zentner palming Andrich’s swerving, 30-yard strike over his own shoulder and across the line.

The atmosphere around the BayArena remained tense, but Leverkusen’s position became far more comfortable when Ngankam was given his marching orders following a VAR review with 10 minutes to play, having caught Xhaka’s heel with his studs.

Alonso’s men were able to control the closing stages from there, ultimately not needing a third goal to secure a fourth straight Bundesliga win.


Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.


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