Mainz boost Euro hopes
Mainz closed in on Europa League qualification and pushed Nurnberg a step closer to relegation with a 2-0 win.
Last Updated: 26/04/14 6:07pm
Mainz closed in on Europa League qualification and pushed Nurnberg a step closer to relegation with a 2-0 win at the Coface Arena.
Shinji Okazaki became the most prolific Japanese player in a single Bundesliga season as he put Thomas Tuchel's men in front after half an hour with his 15th goal of the campaign.
Christoph Moritz added a second to seal the points and earn them a seven-point advantage over eighth-placed Augsburg, who now need to respond against Hamburg on Sunday to have any chance of denying Mainz a place in Europe.
But, after a ninth defeat in their last 10 games which left them six points from safety, Nurnberg look destined for the drop under new coach Roger Prinzen.
Prinzen took over from Gertjan Verbeek on Wednesday and one of his first changes was to restore Timothy Chandler to the starting XI.
His side started with purpose and confidence, albeit without threatening. It seemed their game plan was to keep things tight at the back and they succeeded for half-an-hour.
A long-range shot from Elkin Soto was the closest Tuchel's men got to breaking the deadlock until Okazaki headed in Johannes Geis' curling free-kick.
The goal was a visible blow to Nurnberg's morale and they risked going further behind as Moritz and Soto both missed chances to extend the lead.
Just before half-time, Mainz did so as a corner from the left was not cleared fully by the Nurnberg defence, the ball falling to Moritz to fire home his second goal of the season into the bottom left-hand corner.
Mainz controlled the game throughout the second half and were always closer to a third than Nurnberg were to a consolation.