Borussia Mönchengladbach entertained Bayer Leverkusen in the penultimate matchday of the Bundesliga season. The home team were desperate for a win to take them in to the top four, and in line for a place in the Champions League qualifying stages. Having already sealed third place, Roger Schmidt's Leverkusen looked to end their season on a high following their recent form.
Leverkusen's absentee woes
It was indeed a contrast of starts for the two sides, the multiple forced changes made to the Leverkusen line up seemed to cause panic in the opening stages of the game. In the first minute of the game, Oscar Wendt fired his shot at Bernd Leno’s near post, triggering a roar from the home fans and a scream of frustration from the Leverkusen bench.
The visitors hit back from Borussia’s early chance, also hitting the bar. Robbie Kruse’s shot rattled off of the bar and Stefan Kießling’s rebound was saved by Yann Sommer. The game began to open up after that, but Leverkusen were lucky to be let off on many occasions.
A back line held too high
Schmidt’s team, who had only conceded three in their seven matches prior to today’s game, looked unorganised and nervous when being attacked by Mönchengladbach. It was their decision to hold a high line of defence that was trigger of the number of problems in the first half. First, in the 10th minute, Ibrahima Traore burst through the Leverkusen defence, being played narrowly onside by Benjamin Henrichs. Luckily for the visitors, he dragged his shot wide after being one on one with Leno in the Leverkusen goal.
Leverkusen were almost punished again by their lack of organisation at the back, this time Raffael raced through the oblivious Werkself defence; Leno was there once more to save his side. Minutes later, the same happened again. André Hahn was the player to break clear - the pace possessed by the Mönchengladbach strike force was causing problems for the visitors all afternoon - the German’s poor touch was gathered by Leno, who was the saviour for Leverkusen as he has been all season.
Delight for Aranguiz, but Hahn continues scoring run
Minutes after, the deadlock was broken, surprisingly by Leverkusen. Hakan Calhanoglu’s ball from out wide found Chicharito on the edge of the box, who threaded the ball through to Charles Aranguiz, the Chilean making no mistake with his composed finish to claim his first goal of the Bundesliga season after a campaign cursed by injury.
Leverkusen’s lead was short lived, as the home side equalised minutes before the half time whistle was blown. Traore danced into the penalty box, his sublime footwork seemed to almost distract the attention of Ömer Toprak, the Frenchman’s low curling shot was initially saved by Leno, but his saved was pushed into the danger zone and straight into the path of Hahn, who scored his fourth goal in his last six games for Gladbach.
Mönchengladbach had one more chance before the break, and by no surprise it was the high line of Leverkusen at fault once more. Henrichs was caught napping, allowing goal scorer, Hahn, to take advantage of the space; the German dragged his shot wide of the goal to the relief of Leverkusen.
Second half sees Leverkusen came forward
The first clear chance of the second half fell to André Schubert’s team; Traore’s trickery on the outside of the box allowed him to find the space to line up a curling shot. The shot dipped just below Leno’s crossbar, but the German 'keeper punched the effort out of danger.
Leverkusen were gifted a rare chance a few moments later, as Kruse’s cross found Calhanoglu in line with the far post, the Turk’s attempted volley was blocked by what seemed to be the arm of Andreas Christensen. The block rebounded to the feet of Calhanoglu, but the midfielder opted to protest against the decision not to give the penalty, rather than shoot once more at goal a poor decision as Leverkusen looked to restore their lead.
However, it was the home side that took the lead in the second half. André Hahn continued to relish in his superb run of form, scoring his second of the game. Oscar Wendt’s cross from the left was whipped into the middle of the box, a spot of luck played a small part in the goal, as Stindl’s miss kick rolled into the path of Hahn, unleashing a venomous shot at goal that was simply too powerful to be saved by Leno.
Champions League finish in touching distance
Mönchengladbach edge ever closer to a fourth place finish, especially after Hertha BSC were defeated by SV Darmstadt 98 this afternoon. As for Leverkusen, for the first time this season they fail to win after leading in a game, luckily for Werkself, third place is confirmed. Mönchengladbach travel to Darmstadt in their final game of the Bundesliga season, Leverkusen conclude their campaign at home to Ingolstadt.