Niko Kovac and his Eagles were looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat at the Volkswagen Arena on Saturday evening, which brought to an end their superb recent run of late. Timothy Chandler and Mijat Gacinovic returned to the starting side for the game, as Michael Hector and Szabolcs Huszti stepped aside.
Martin Schmidt's Mainz were coming off the back of a huge weekend win against Hamburger SV. Danny Latza was the unlikely hero after his hat-trick and he had Jean-Philippe Gbamin back at his side in central midfield following suspension. André Ramalho dropped to the bench as a result.
Early opener for the Eagles
It was nearly a nightmare start for Mainz who had hearts in mouths when Alexander Hack's backward header was almost picked up on by two Frankfurt forwards. One of those, Ante Rebic then was lucky to escape an early yellow as he went down easily in the area. Günter Perl, however, opted to keep his cards in his pocket.
Mainz were beginning to pick up the pace with Yunus Malli looking particularly dangerous. Yet despite their revival, a superb pass from David Abraham would prove to be their undoing. The Argentine's pin-point through ball found Hrgota goal side of the visiting backline and he calmly slotted past Jonas Lössl for a crucial opener.
The visitors responded with a huge chance almost immediately after they conceded, with Gbamin being denied by a sprawling Lukas Hradecky after a free-kick. The rebound was kind for Pablo de Blasis, but no finish was found. Hradecky made an even more impressive save to keep out the Frenchman's point-blank header later in the half.
Malli was also halted by the Finnish stopper late in the half, which proved especially frustrating when Karim Onisiwo was free to his right. Nevertheless, Hradecky had preserved Frankfurt's advantage into the half-time break. Mainz had plenty of positives to take from the first period, though.
Hrgota strikes again with Barkok key
There was one change at the break for the visitors as Levin Öztunali replaced Onisiwo. The duel between Hradecky and Gbamin resumed with the latter almost finding a way through, yet his deflected drive was spilled and headed for the line but for the ball to trickle onto the post and into the Finn's grateful arms.
As Öztunali fired narrowly past the post with a 25-yard drive that zipped off the surface, Mainz looked to be well on their way to finally breaking through. Jhon Cordoba had other ideas and after losing out to Abraham in a duel, the Colombian forward stood on the opponent's ankle. Perl was quickly on the scene to produce the red card.
As the half went on it became more broken up, with a series of fouls at key times proving enough to disrupt any promising moves. As the game looked to be drawing to a close the promise returned with Barkok's introduction and the added impetus proved crucial as he sped past the Mainz defence to round Lössl and slot home.
There was added insult to injury at the very end of the match as Frankfurt's clinical finishing saw an incisive move end with Barkok squaring for Hrgota to tap in.