Mainz closed the gap on Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund to four points by seeing off Nurnberg at the Stadion am Bruchweg tonight. The hosts enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win against the mid-table outfit.
Andre Schurrle opened the scoring in the 27th minute and Nikolce Noveski added a second nine minutes after the restart. Despite a late rally from the visitors, Sami Allagui rounded off the win as Mainz, whose title challenge had threatened to peter out following three defeats in a row, picked up a second straight win.
Nurnberg were the first to threaten when Mike Frantz bounced on a misplaced pass in defence but, with only goalkeeper Christian Wetklo to beat, shot wastefully over the bar. And Mainz made the visitors pay by taking the lead with their first attack of note. Following a goalmouth scramble from Christian Fuchs' dangerous corner, Malik Fathi laid the ball off to Schurrle, who fired home a low shot.
Fuchs went close with an audacious effort just after the half-hour mark, his shot from way out on the left side going narrowly wide of the far right post.
The hosts doubled their lead in the 54th minute, with the influential Fuchs again heavily involved. Fuchs sent in a free-kick from the left low and at pace which was expertly flicked by Schurrle into the six-yard box where Noveski turned the ball into the net.
Nurnberg were inches away from pulling one back in the 72nd minute as Jens Hegeler's looping header from Julian Schieber's cross hit the top of the bar. The away side were starting to cause Mainz problems at the back and Ilkay Gundogan played in Robert Mak, whose shot flew just past the post. Gundogan then went for goal himself, unleashing a fierce 25-yard volley which flew narrowly wide.
But substitute Allagui sealed the points in style for Mainz with four minutes to go, running on to a huge throw from Wetklo and outpacing Pascal Bieler before scoring with a magnificent lob over the head of keeper Raphael Schafer.