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23.05.2020Bundesliga

Werkself go above Gladbach with 3-1 win

Bayer 04 earned an important away win in the race for a Champions League finish. The Werkself deservedly won 3-1 at Borussia Mönchengladbach and have now moved up in the table. Kai Havertz scored another brace (7', 58' pen.) and Sven Bender netted the final goal (81'). Marcus Thuram levelled the scores at 1-1 for Mönchengladbach (52').
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"It was a top match where we had to give our all," said double goalscorer Kai Havertz in assessing the game. "And that's what we did. We played well, created lots of chances and decided the outcome in the second half."

Werkself coach Peter Bosz opted to change his system compared with the 4-1 win in Bremen in an important game against a direct rival with a back three instead of a back four: Jonathan Tah was due to replace Nadiem Amiri in the starting eleven but the Germany defender had to drop out late on due to a back problem and he was replaced by Aleksandar Dragovic. The other change in the line-up was Karim Bellarabi playing on the right wing in place of the youngster Florian Wirtz.

Werkself at the double – Havertz nets opener

Even without fans in the stadium, this clash of neighbours had a special atmosphere – as befits a true top match in the Bundesliga between two teams on top of their game. And that was reflected on the pitch: Both the Foals and the Werkself were quick to press and started with great intensity. Bayer 04, above all, looked alert: Kerem Demirbay weaved his way past four or five Gladbach players and tested the Borussia keeper Yann Sommer with the first shot on five minutes. Shortly after that, the Peter Bosz team were rewarded for their determined start: In a counter-attack, Demirbay put Bellarabi through on the right and he placed the ball in the middle for Kai Havertz to run on to. The Werkself captain kept his cool in front of Sommer and he slipped the ball past the Swiss keeper to give Leverkusen the lead (7'). Bayer 04 kept up the pressure with a long-range effort from the impressive Demirbay going just wide of the right-hand post (11').

And Mönchengladbach? The hosts were forced into making an early substitution (Lars Stindl came on for the injured Breel Embolo, 12') but they failed to make headway against an alert and disciplined Werkself defence. The next shots at goal fell to Sven Bender (26') and Bellarabi (27'). Peter Bosz’ tactical plan with the switch to a back three proved to be a success and the Werkself were clearly the better of two impressive Bundesliga teams.

Crossbar, then Elvedi: Werkself miss chance to go 2-0 up

Lukas Hradecky was first called into action on 41 minutes: The Finland keeper was unable to hold onto a long-range effort from Florian Neuhaus and he needed the assistance of Charles Aránguiz to prevent Ramy Bensebaini scoring. Bayer 04 had a clearly bigger chance just before half-time: Another perfectly played attack ended with Havertz hitting the underside of the bar from a tight angle. The ball bounced back to Demirbay who had an open goal in front of him but he missed the target. Then the Foals defender Nico Elvedi stuck his leg out to prevent an almost certain goal (45'). In spite of an outstanding performance, Kerem was left shaking his head at half-time – what a chance!

Havertz replies to Thuram's leveller

Mönchengladbach started the second half looking to get forwards. Bensebaini fired a warning shot (50') – and the next effort ended in the back of the net: Alassane Plea put Thuram through in a counter-attack and he fired in a shot from the right of the box leaving Hradecky with no chance (52'). And then it became really hectic: Hradecky saved from Thuram to prevent a second Gladbach goal within a couple of minutes (54') – and in the direct counter-attack Havertz provided a pinpoint pass to Bellarabi. The winger put his shot from inside the penalty area just wide of the far post but he was brought down by Elvedi during the move. Referee Sören Storks pointed to the spot: penalty for Bayer 04. Another job for the captain who did need a slice of good fortune: Sommer got a hand to Havertz's penalty but was unable to keep it out – Bayer 04 were back in front (58').

End-to-end action – Bender wraps it up

The match became a more open affair partly because Mönchengladbach grew increasingly stronger. Hradecky had to risk everything to prevent Neuhaus equalising (64') and, at the other end, Moussa Diaby was kept out by Sommer (67'). The lively Frenchman again and again looked dangerous in counter-attacks and another solo run through the Gladbach half left several opponents standing but he was unable to beat Sommer from a tight angle and Demirbay hit the rebound over the bar. There was definitely more of a chance in that (75'). Mönchengladbach also posed a threat with a free kick from substitute Laszlo Benes going just wide of the top corner (78').

A Werkself substitute then played a role in the decisive third goal: Leon Bailey broke down the right and won a free kick just to the right of the Gladbach penalty area. Demirbay put it right on the spot in the six-yard box where Sven Bender outmuscled Elvedi to score a great header to make it 3-1 (81').

The Werkself looked comfortable with the two-goal cushion but Gladbach refused to be beaten: Plea headed just wide of the upright (84') and then he forced Hradecky to pull off a brilliant save from a powerful shot (85'). The Werkself had weathered the attacks from the hosts and ended up convincing 3-1 winners. This eminently important win takes Bayer 04 above Mönchengladbach in the table and into a Champions League position. The Werkself will now be looking to hold onto that in the Tuesday night in the game against VfL Wolfsburg (20.30 CET).

Match stats:

Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sommer - Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Bensebaini - Strobl (Benes 76'), Neuhaus - Hofmann, Embolo (Stindl 12'), Thuram (Wendt 78') - Plea

Bayer 04: Hradecky – Tapsoba, S. Bender, Dragovic (Baumgartlinger 81')- Weiser, Aránguiz, Demirbay, Wendell - Bellarabi (Bailey 66'), Havertz, Diaby

Goals: 0-1 Havertz (7’), 1-1 Thuram (52’), 1-2 Havertz (58’, pen.)

Referee: Sören Storks (Velen)

Booked: Bensebaini - Diaby

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