André Schubert's Borussia Mönchengladbach side took a huge step towards the UEFA Champions League group stage with a 1-3 win over BSC Young Boys.
Despite Raffael's excellent opener being cancelled out by Miralem Sulejmani, André Hahn and a second Raffael strike gave them a healthy advantage.
Raffael rifles Gladbach into the lead
The game started with both sides playing some super snappy passes to edge up the field, yet found very little joy in either final third. Gladbach's rather unorthodox three-at-the-back formation seemed to be stifling the Young Boys' attack and provided the perfect platform to go forward on.
That had to be built on with some individual skill, as the Swiss side were keen to cut the passing game of Gladbach as far up the field as possible.
Despite their best efforts, there was nothing that could be done to prevent Thorgan Hazard going on a mazy run through their defence. The Belgian crossed to the back-post, where Raffael controlled superbly on his chest. The Brazilian shifted the ball inside and struck an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner to cap a stunning move.
Even though they had gone a goal down after just 11 minutes, Adi Hütter's side did not go into their shell and came forward in search of an equaliser. Several searching passes over the top of the Gladbach defence almost found Yuya Kubo and Guillaume Hoarau in scoring positions, but they just couldn't make clean connection.
The best opportunity of all fell in the dying minutes of the half, after a period of back and forth between the sides. A long ball forward wasn't dealt with at all well by the Foals and it fell kindly to Hoarau on the edge of the area. Unfortunately for Hütter and his men, his half-volley was skewed wide as the half-time whistle went.
Strong showing in second half sees Foals claim comfortable win
At the start of the second half, both would have been forgiven if they had slowed up the pace to settle into things again; that couldn't have been further from the case. Andreas Christensen's header went straight at Yvon Mvogo from close range, before Young Boys began to turn on the style.
Sulejmani was the man they were seemingly looking to, in order to make something happen, and he had an early shot and cross well saved by Yann Sommer. Then came the leveller, as Scott Sutter threaded a lovely pass into Yoric Ravet. The Frenchman crossed powerfully into the centre and Sulejmani gleefully tapped home.
It could so easily have been two in as many minutes for the Swiss side, who produced a fine passage of play to allowed Sulejmani room to cross on the left. Despite Hoarau's best efforts to direct the ball into the far corner, his header slipped mere millimetres wide of Sommer's goal.
That seemed to wake up the Foals and they didn't look back from there. Just moments after he was called off the bench, Hahn restored their lead. It was far from pretty but that didn't stop the away end from erupting with joy, as a lucky bounce and a stabbed through pass from Lars Stindl found Hahn; he made no mistake with a classy finish.
Gladbach did exactly what Young Boys failed to do, and that was to make the most of a chance that followed their goal. Oscar Wendt got free on the left and wasn't closed down quickly enough, before he picked put Raffael at the far post. He sealed his brace with a superb volley that caught Alain Rochat's leg to find the bottom corner.
The final stages saw Hütter's men push forward in vain, as Sommer was able to maintain Gladbach's two-goal advantage. It's all set up to be a routine second leg at Borussia-Park next week, but Young Boys have the potential to make things very difficult very quickly if they find their feet.