Timo Werner hat-trick puts miserable Mainz to the sword
Germany striker becomes RB Leipzig's record scorer to lift club to third in Bundesliga
Mainz could be forgiven for hoping someone signs Timo Werner in the summer. One of Europe’s most coveted forwards scored a second hat-trick against the same opponents this season – something no one had done in the Bundesliga since Ulf Kirsten 21 years ago – as he capped a historic day by becoming RB Leipzig’s record scorer.
One of the Champions League’s surprise quarter-finalists can be more confident they will return to Europe’s premier club competition next season. Leipzig returned to the Bundesliga’s top four in magnificent fashion, ending a run of three successive draws with an energetic demolition as they leapt up to third.
Leipzig’s record Bundesliga win came against Mainz in November and such was the scale of their domination that it is no exaggeration to say this could also have finished 8-0. They were too quick, too creative and too relentless for a Mainz side who now only have the bottom three beneath them. Their one consolation must be that they will not have to face Leipzig again this season.
And, in particular, that they will not encounter Werner again this campaign. The striker had scored three and helped set up three more in the autumn 8-0. He collected another treble – but for two misses in as many minutes, it could have been five - taking him to 30 goals for the season. His total of 24 in the league puts him second only to Robert Lewandowski.
Yet this was no one-man show. Kevin Kampl was outstanding in midfield, Marcel Sabitzer a source of some superb crosses from the right and Yussuf Poulsen elusive and impressive in attack. Leipzig wasted a few chances to get other goals, with Christopher Nkunku particularly profligate, but little time: a first-half shot tally of 12-0 amounted to a statement of intent. By the end, the aggregate score between these teams this season was still bigger: 13-0.
Mainz had brought in an extra defender, in Jeffrey Bruma, in a failed bid for solidity but their marking was poor, lending itself to easy quips about too much social distancing. Leipzig, though, were irresistible. On this form, they would beat rather better teams.
Leipzig had a fine record on the road even when visits were rendered more intimidating by the presence of supporters but this conformed to the recent theme of away wins, with behind-closed-doors games again removing home advantage.
They soon made themselves comfortable. Werner had not struck in his previous four games but a reunion with favourite opponents spurred him back into scoring form. He ended with 13 goals in eight meetings with Mainz, scoring the 11th in the 11th minute. Konrad Laimer advanced on the right and delivered a low cross. Werner emerged unchecked at the near post to angle in his shot.
Poulsen was able to cap a milestone appearance in fitting fashion. The Dane became the first player to represent Leipzig 250 times and a veteran of their third-division days found the net for a second successive top-flight game when he converted Sabitzer’s cross with an emphatic header.
It underlined the importance of crossing in Julian Nagelsmann’s gameplan. Leipzig kept outflanking Mainz
Florian Muller made a terrific save to keep out Werner’s header from another Sabitzer centre. Poulsen wastefully blazed over from another right-wing ball, this one supplied by Werner. Sabitzer got the goal his hugely influential performance merited, finding the top corner to complete a move he started in midfield. Nkunku had a shot blocked before Poulsen teed up Sabitzer.
Werner’s second was a relatively simple finish after an overlapping run from Kampl. His third was a first-time lob after Poulsen dropped deep to chip a pass over the shambolic Mainz defence. It was redemption of sorts: Kampl had a goal disallowed because the offside Poulsen went for the ball.
A crowded calendar may have given Mainz some respite. Sabitzer and Kampl were among those removed as Nagelsmann’s thoughts turned to Wednesday’s meeting with Hertha Berlin. Dayot Upamecano was also substituted. He had collected a caution on his comeback, one of five first-half bookings, but Leipzig kept a clean sheet after his departure. It was threatened when Jean-Philippe Mateta attempted an audacious backheel volley. It would have been a brilliant goal and one out of keeping with Mainz’s miserable performance.
Updated: May 24, 2020 07:46 PM