Mainz book European place
Last Updated: 10/05/14 5:24pm
Zdenek Pospech is challenged by Hakan Calhanoglu
Mainz secured their place in the Europa League next season with a 3-2 win over Hamburg, who still have two games to salvage their Bundesliga status.
With Nurnberg and Eintracht Braunschweig both losing, it proved to be a harmless defeat for Mirko Slomka's men, who will face the 2. Bundesliga's third-placed side for a place in the top flight next season.
For Mainz, though, it was a crucial win which ensured they held off the challenge of Augsburg for a place in Europe next season.
Elink Soto, Yunus Malli and Shinji Okazaki scored the goals for Thomas Tuchel's men with Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Ivo Ilicevic on target for the guests.
Nicolai Muller and Lasogga both returned for Mainz and Hamburg respectively, both after breaks of six weeks due to injury.
The way Mainz took the lead summed up the kind of season Hamburg have been having.
A cross from Malli was not too threatening, so Heiko Westermann tried to chest the ball back down for his goalkeeper Rene Adler.
Soto was lurking behind him, though, to sneak inside and lift the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Just five minutes later, Rafael van der Vaart tested Loris Karius from the edge of the penalty area and he could only parry the ball out for Lasogga to nod in his 13th goal of the season from close range.
Karius then turned Michael Mancienne's shot over the crossbar with a reflex save as Hamburg tried to take the lead.
Lasogga sent in a shot from 20 yards, heading low into the bottom right-hand corner, but Karius dived down to his left to turn the ball behind.
At the other end, Okazaki showed his strength to keep hold of the ball and then pass inside to Malli, who struck his shot into the bottom left-hand corner to put Mainz back in front.
Mainz could have had a penalty when Westermann seemed to push Christoph Moritz to the ground in the area, but the home team's protests were waved away.
Okazaki then made a mockery of the Hamburg defence again, dribbling his way through two defenders, making it look easy as he lifted the ball over Rene Adler to make it three.
In the 84th minute, Ilicevic's header struck his own arm and set him up to make it 3-2 with his foot, and with Nurnberg and Braunschweig both losing, the visitors have the chance to regroup for another shot at survival.
Sat 10th May
Mainz3 - 2Hamburg
Hoffenheim3 - 1E Braunschweig
Leverkusen2 - 1W Bremen
FC Augsburg2 - 1Frankfurt
Bay Munich1 - 0Stuttgart
Schalke4 - 1Nurnberg
Hannover3 - 2Freiburg
Hertha0 - 4B Dortmund
Wolfsburg3 - 1M'gladbach