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Hertha stun hapless Leverkusen to escape drop zone

Berlin (AFP) – Dutch defender Deyovaisio Zeefuik scored his first Bundesliga goal in style on Sunday to kickstart a shock 3-0 win for strugglers Hertha Berlin against Bayer Leverkusen.

Zeefuik’s fourth-minute screamer sparked a breathtaking first-half performance which gave the Berliners hope in the relegation fight and dealt another blow to Leverkusen’s hopes of European qualification. 

The win lifted Hertha out of the bottom three, while Leverkusen’s dreadful defensive show saw them fall seven points behind the Champions League places in sixth. 

After just one win in their previous 11 games, Hertha made a surprise return to form as they tore Leverkusen apart on the counter-attack.

Zeefuik opened the scoring after just four minutes, curling the ball into the top left corner to score his first Bundesliga goal since joining Hertha from Groningen last year.

The capital club doubled the lead with their second shot on goal 22 minutes later, Matheus Cunha slotting the ball past Leverkusen goalkeeper Lennart Grill after a blistering counter-attack. 

Leverkusen’s defence was left in tatters again just after the half-hour mark, as Jhon Cordoba squeezed the ball in after a penalty-box scramble to make it 3-0. 

Dodi Lukebakio had the ball in the net early in the second half, but the goal was ruled out for a handball in the build-up. 

In Sunday’s earlier game, fellow strugglers Mainz continued their recent revival with a 2-1 away win at Hoffenheim. 

Having spent much of the season in the relegation zone, Mainz have won four of their last seven games under new boss Bo Svensson, and  sit two points clear of the bottom three.

“It’s a great way to go into the international break and a good finish to what has been a great run for us in recent weeks,” Mainz sporting director Martin Schmidt told broadcaster DAZN.

Mainz took the lead after just 26 seconds, as Robert Glatzel stole possession from hesitant Hoffenheim defender Chris Richards and slotted neatly past goalkeeper Oliver Baumann. 

Richards’ error set the tone for a miserable defensive first-half performance from Hoffenheim, who nonetheless equalised through Ihlas Bebou on 39 minutes. 

Yet their relief was shortlived as another mistake at the back allowed Kohr to restore Mainz’s lead with a free header in the box two minutes later.

While Hoffenheim remain mired in mid-table, Mainz are outside the bottom three for the first time in 2021. 

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