Berlin: Quick-thinking Renato Augusto poached a late winner to give Bayer Leverkusen a 1-0 victory at Mainz 05 to close the gap on Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund to nine points on Sunday.
Mainz were calmly playing the ball out of defence from a goal kick when Renato Augusto, running back after taking a corner, stole the ball off Bo Svensson in the 82nd minute.
The Brazilian advanced before whacking a curling shot past goalkeeper Christian Wetklo from 20 metres, leaving Mainz`s perplexed defenders looking at each other in disbelief.
Leverkusen, in second spot, have 52 points from 26 games and reduced the arrears on Dortmund who lost 1-0 at Hoffenheim on Saturday. Both teams have eight matches to play.
"It was very important for us to win especially after losing that Europa League match to Villarreal," said goalkeeper Rene Adler whose Leverkusen side lost 3-2 at home to the Spaniards on Thursday.
Mainz, who led the Bundesliga earlier this season, are fifth with 43 points.
Until Renato Augusto struck Leverkusen looked as if they would pay for failing to take their chances.
Arturo Vidal and Stefan Kiessling squandered excellent openings within a minute of each other in the second half, both created by Renato Augusto.
Vidal blasted his effort over the bar after being found free on the left and Kiessling shot tamely at Wetklo after being sent clear of the defence by the former Flamengo player`s chipped pass.
At the other end Andrea Schuerrle wasted Mainz`s best chance by firing high and wide from a Christian Fuchs cross.
Relegation-threatened VfB Stuttgart were visiting fellow strugglers St Pauli in the last match of the weekend (1630 GMT) on Sunday.