Yunus Malli scored a delightful hat-trick as Mainz trounced Hoffenheim 3-1 to pick up their third win of the campaign.
Head coach Martin Schmidt could hardly hide his joy on the touchline when Malli scored his fifth goal in five games this season - five all coming in the last three - to secure victory. Hoffenheim had taken the lead through Jonathan Schmid, but their winless streak continues this season.
Malli's performance and goals was the highlight of the Friday evening fixture. The young attacking-midfielder was compared with Arsenal's Mesut Özil by one German TV commentator. Both players are attacking-midfielders who generally drift out into wide-positions, but perhaps he was being facetious in his observations.
More from FoxSports
Nonetheless, 2015 is Malli's breakthrough season. He scored six goals in the second half of last season for Mainz, thriving when power changed from Kasper Hjulmand to trained mechanic and former youth coach Schmidt.
Schmidt's opposite number Markus Gisdol has faced the media with confidence and class this week. Many questions were around the club's winless streak and whether the coach's position was under pressure. Gisdol responded in Germany's Kicker magazine that finding a solution to the lack of confidence in the camp would see an upswing in results.
Gisdol's side -- with three changes from the defeat to Bremen last week -- started on the back foot as Mainz racked up a succession of corner kicks. But 12 minutes in and the visitors took the lead against the run of play.
Hoffenheim broke up play in the middle of the park and midfielder Eugen Polanski surged forward on the counterattack. Playing against his former club, Polanski slipped in a fine ball for Schmid behind right-back Daniel Brosinski and the attacker finished confidently.
However, the lead lasted just five minutes. The counterattack was important yet again: Malli carried the ball down the left-wing, cutting inside and drilling an early shot past Fabian Schär and Oliver Baumann who was wrong-footed.
Malli was important to Mainz's play throughout. The 23-year-old from Kassel forced Baumann into another save, albeit a comfortable one from 25 yards out. Just seconds earlier, Mainz was fortunate to remain in front. Goalkeeper Loris Karius denied Kevin Volland with a brilliant one-handed save after the German forward nut-megged Stefan Bell and rifled a shot which was heading for the bottom corner of the net.
Karius, another talent on Mainz's books, made another good save on the stroke of half time when Schmid looked to find a second for the away side.
While Malli will take the headlines, one of Mainz's favorite sons right now is Yoshinori Muto, the 22-year-old Japanese forward who joined from FC Tokyo this summer. With his charming attempts to learn German, Muto is already revered at the Coface Arena with two goals in four appearances this term.
On 53 minutes, Muto's main involvement in the game was a quick run to the near-post, connecting with Christian Clemens' corner kick, and shouldering the ball against the crossbar. That signaled the arrival of Mainz's second goal on the hour mark through attacking teammate Malli.
The No.10 floated out to the right-flank, cut inside on to his left-foot and curled the ball wonderfully into the top corner of the net. Eight minutes later, he became just the third Mainz player to score a hat-trick in the Bundesliga after Adam Szalai and Mohamed Zidan.
Muto moved out to his natural left-sided berth and delivered a dangerous cross into the box. South Korean Jin-Su Kim couldn't clear the danger in the six-yard box and Malli was on hand to finish at the second attempt.
There almost seems an inevitability that now Malli will be on top of the radar for clubs scouting in the Bundesliga. Suat Serdar, just 18, made his Bundesliga debut as his replacement when he was given a standing ovation from the home supporters.
With Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to come in their next four games, Mainz jump into third place, probably for just the 24 hours until the rest of the matches get underway. For Hoffenheim, however, Gisdol's men slip closer to the bottom, moving into the relegation play-off with one point from five games.