After the 2-1 defeat against Freiburg, the personnel situation took a turn for the worse so that the Werkself coach Peter Bosz was unable to call on three players who were in the starting line-up last week. Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who faces a long period on the sidelines after suffering a torn cruciate, was replaced at right-back by Jeremie Frimpong in his first Bundesliga start. Kerem Demirbay came into midfield in place of Florian Wirtz after he tested positive for Covid-19 during the week. And Leon Bailey was suspended after picking up a fifth yellow card and his place on the wing was taken by Moussa Diaby who was available after serving a one-match ban. The fourth and final change was unenforced: Patrik Schick was preferred to Lucas Alario up front.
The Czech Republic striker had the first attempt on goal for the Werkself with a header in a bright start the visitors (2'). The opening minutes were almost exclusively played in the hosts' half with Bayer 04 securing a number of corners early on, a long-range effort from Demirbay (6') and an impressive attack that saw Ramy Bensebaini getting to the ball just before Nadiem Amiri in the Gladbach six-yard box. The first effort from the hosts came from Florian Neuhaus (14').
However, it was the Werkself who looked livelier as they imposed themselves on the game and had the first really good chance: Diaby tested the Foals keeper Yann Sommer with a rifled shot from a tight angle (17'). Lennart Grill Initially had little to do in his second Bundesliga match and was only called into action on 21 minutes with a shot from Alassane Plea. Shortly after that, the Werkself keeper was able to rely on Edmond Tapsoba who blocked a dangerous shot from Hannes Wolf (24').
Borussia were more into the game at this stage but it was the Werkself who had the best chance of the first half: In a fast counter-attack, Diaby was put through on the right but he was again foiled by Sommer and Schick was unable to convert the rebound (32'). Bayer 04 won a lot of possession in midfield and with clever moves posed a threat up front but often were unable to penetrate the alert Foals defence. Schick had the last effort of the first half from one of the many Werkself corners (45').
The first chance of the second half fell to Borussia Mönchengladbach but Jonathan Tah was able to turn away a shot from Wolf (54'). Shortly after that, referee Daniel Siebert awarded Borussia a penalty for a challenge by Frimpong on Marcus Thuram. VAR intervened to overturn the penalty decision as Valentino Lazaro was offside in the build-up (57'). Borussia were on top at this point with the Werkself defence increasingly called into action but they remained solid in the centre – and Tah was often involved in initiating counter-attacks. In a perfectly executed attack down the right, Diaby raced through and he passed to Amiri but his first-time effort went just over the target (68').
The match developed into a very tight and balanced game with both sides looking to mount the decisive attack – and that is what the Werkself did. The impressive Tah won the ball in midfield in his inimitable manner and launched another attack with Amiri moving the ball on to Diaby who demonstrated his pace as he sprinted away. In a one-on-one with Sommer, the Frenchman was again unable to beat the Borussia shot-stopper with his excellent reactions – but this time Schick was on the spot and he was able to slot the ball into the far corner of the net (77').
Borussia Mönchengladbach were under pressure to fight back – but the Werkself remained the more dangerous team with a fine volley from Demarai Gray blocked (83'). Bayer 04 had a great game on and off the ball and succeeded in frustrating the impressive Gladbach attack with the only real danger coming in the final minutes. But the Werkself were able to rely on their keeper Grill: The previously hardly tested shot-stopper held on to a free-kick from Neuhaus (90') and pulled off an excellent save to keep out a shot from Matthias Ginter (90+2').
The game was over shortly after that – and the Werkself secured an important win in the race for a European finish. Bayer 04 are now six points ahead of the opponents from Mönchengladbach and are only three points behind the Champions League positions. The next chance for the Werkself to pick up points comes on Sunday (14 March) when Armenia Bielefeld visit the BayArena in a 13.30 CET kick-off.
Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sommer - Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Bensebaini - Zakaria, Neuhaus - Lazaro (Herrmann 81’), Wolf, Thuram (Traoré 81’) - Plea (Embolo 70’)
Bayer 04: Grill – Frimpong, Tah, Tapsoba, Wendell – Amiri, Aránguiz, Demirbay – Diaby, Schick, Gray
Goals: 0-1 Schick (77’)
Booked: Amiri, Schick
Referee: Daniel Siebert (Berlin)
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