Strikes from Kevin-Prince Boateng and Luka Jovic allowed Eintracht Frankfurt to beat Borussia Mönchengladbach and fly up to second in the Bundesliga table, at least overnight.
The first half was a poor one but Frankfurt just about deserved the lead when Boateng put them ahead, with Gladbach offering little threat themselves.
That changed in the second half, with the visitors having the best of the chances, but Thorgan Hazard missed their chance to draw level from the spot, and substitute Jovic made sure of the three points in stoppage time for Frankfurt.
Boateng makes flat Gladbach pay
With just two places and a point separating the sides before kick-off, and both capable of rising to second, Frankfurt were looking to add to just two wins at home all season against a side that haven’t done much better on the road, with just three wins plus three defeats in each of their last three away games. Frankfurt were unchanged from their win over VfL Wolsburg, but Raffael was injured for Gladbach, seeing Christoph Kramer come in and Dieter Hecking deciding to play with a 3-4-2-1 formation.
Die Adler started the game brightly, with Marius Wolf having a great early opportunity to put them ahead. From a quick break, Ante Rebic beat Patrick Herrmann on the Frankfurt left, with his cross finding Wolf. He put his shot the wrong side of Yann Sommer though, and wide of the post too. A bad miss for a man whose loan move from Hannover 96 was confirmed to have been made permanent ahead of kick-off.
With both sides playing three at the back though, the first half was far from a thriller as they cancelled each other out. Gladbach especially were struggling with their attacking play; Hazard was playing as the furthest forward, leaving Lars Stindl to do the dirty work elsewhere. Stindl did nearly create one chance, but Wolf got to the ball ahead of Oscar Wendt. To make matters worse, they also lost Sommer to injury early on.
Frankfurt certainly looked to more capable going forward. Although Timothy Chandler curled a shot wide, causing little concern to substitute keeper Tobias Sippel, he set up the opening goal just before the break. He beat Herrmann, who was looking far from comfortable as a right wing-back, and Boateng got just ahead of Wendt to put the ball in. Wendt’s game was all but ended by his collision with Sippel as the goal went in, with Gladbach forced to make another change at the break.
Hazard misses penalty as Gladbach fightback proves in vain
Nevertheless, they were a much more dangerous force once the game got back underway for the second half. Michäel Cuisance had two chances, shooting at Lukas Hradecky before putting another effort over the bar. He then set up Herrmann for the best opportunity they had had all game. From a tight angle on the left, his shot took a big nick off the bar as it made its way out of play.
Set pieces produced a number of flashpoints over the following minutes, with the scorer Boateng lucky referee Marco Fritz didn’t spot him relentlessly holding back Jannik Vestergaard as a Gladbach corner was played in, whilst Chandler overreacted when Vestergaard accidentally met him with his arm. Meanwhile the visitors continued their improvement, although shots from Denis Zakaria and Hazard went over.
They were then given the chance to finally draw level. Stindl got the ball after Hradecky saved from Zakaria, and just as he went to shoot it seems that Boateng caught his leg, with Fritz pointing to the spot. Replays showed though that Stindl might have ended up connecting with Boateng rather than the ball. Hazard took the penalty, but he over hit it, striking the bar. Frankfrurt survived.
Gladbach kept searching, with Frankfurt eventually given four minutes of stoppage time to survive. By this point Niko Kovac had brought on Jovic, who had scored the settling goal from the bench against Wolfsburg last weekend, and he would do the same here. Another substitute, Aymen Barkok, set him up and he finished well past Sippel, with Gladbach appeals for a handball in the build-up ignored.
That sealed a victory that took them up to the giddy heights of second, although they could easily end up in sixth by the end of the weekend. That goes to show just how tight the league is behind Bayern Munich this season.