A dominate first half display saw Borussia Mönchengladbach to a comfortable 3-0 victory over struggling VfL Wolfsburg.
Lars Stindl, back in the team after missing the 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, opened the scoring early on, with Raffael adding a second and Christoph Kramer scoring a cheeky free-kick just before the break.
Dieter Hecking’s side had little further trouble in the second half, as his former club face the possibility of dropping into the Bundesliga’s bottom three if results go again them elsewhere this weekend.
Wolfsburg defensive shambles allows Gladbach to race ahead
Gladbach had meekly surrendered to Bayern last weekend, however Hecking made just one change, restoring Stindl following his suspension at the expense of Josip Drmic, who had scored at the Allianz Arena. Exactly seven days earlier the Wolves had shared a goalless draw with FC Augsburg, ultimately leaving them out of the bottom three on goal difference alone, and they too saw just one change to their team. The suspended Ohis Felix Uduokhai was replaced by the fit-again John Anthony Brooks – although after an early booking, he was taken off less than 30 minutes in.
It was clear early on that there was no lasting damage to the Foals’ confidence. They led after just eight minutes, when a ball deflected off a Wolfsburg player to Stindl, who turned past Robin Knoche and scored with an impressive finish into the top corner. Wolfsburg had been waiting for the offside, but as it came of their own man, there was nothing doing in that.
The Wolves stabilised at the back but Gladbach controlled the match. Excellent play from Denis Zakaria gave Stindl a chance for a second, but Koen Casteels put it wide. Sloppy defending though would cost the visitors a second goal. Jannik Vestergaard went route one from the back, finding Jonas Hofmann in the box. His effort was saved by Casteels, but Raffael pounced to score from the rebound.
Wolfsburg had one effort on target before the break, with a Maximilian Arnold free-kick proving little problem for Yann Sommer. Wolfsburg were nearly caught out again twice, as a long ball to Thorgan Hazard led to a shot saved by Casteels, who was then relieved to see a Stindl shot from the halfway line go over after the Germany international spotted him over his line.
There was more defensive embarrassment to come for them before the break though. William fouled Hofmann on the edge of the box, with the Wolfsburg defenders taking the time to get organised and Casteels trying to orchestrate them from his post. Kramer spotted an opportunity, asked the referee to take the free-kick, and struck into the mostly-empty net to make it 3-0. Red faces all round.
Hofmann with only real chance from open play in second half
Following that late blow from Gladbach, it was a slow start to the second half, with Wolfsburg seemingly already accepting of their fate. It took time for the home team to start to push home their dominance once more.
Hofmann is yet to score a Bundesliga goal for the Foals but he came close 20 minutes into the second half, as he came superbly into the box from his perch on the right-wing, however his shot couldn’t quite beat Casteels, who got a touch to send it out for a corner. From that, and for the second time in the match, Vestergaard had a free header. Having not learnt their mistake the first time, Wolfsburg could only watch as he headed wide.
An Arnold free-kick caused a brief concern meanwhile at the other end, over Zakaria got to it before Sommer put it over. Arnold then flicked the ball on from the corner but couldn’t direct it on goal. Likewise Matthias Ginter then did the same for Gladbach from a Stindl set piece.
But other than that, there were no more chances from open play, with Tobias Stieler seeing no reason to extend the game beyond the 90 minutes. The win keeps Gladbach in the hunt for a UEFA Europa League place, but Wolfsburg would drop into the bottom three if both 1. FSV Mainz 05 and SC Freiburg pick up points over the rest of the weekend. Their defeat also means that the Bundesliga’s bottom two, 1. FC Köln and Hamburger SV, can’t be officially relegated this weekend.