Werkself make it three in a row

Bayer 04 moved up to third in the table with a fully deserved 2-0 win at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday night. Lucas Alario (39’) and Julian Brandt (90’+3) scored as the Werkself beat Gladbach for the third time this season following a 5-1 win in the reverse fixture and a 1-0 triumph in the DFB Cup last 16.

“We were alert and slick from the off and produced a mature performance,” said Lars Bender after the match. “Everyone gave their all today. We’ve now put ourselves in a good position with eight games left until the end of the season.” His twin brother Sven commented: “We knew how strong Gladbach are and we wanted to go into the game with a high level of intensity. We managed to do that. I’m happy we’ve won this important game.”

Bayer 04’s line-up showed one change from the 2-1 win at Wolfsburg with Leon Bailey replacing Karim Bellarabi on the left wing. The aim for both sides was clear: The Werkself wanted to increase their lead over a fellow challenger for the European spots, while Mönchengladbach were looking to close the gap.

“We want to get at Gladbach early on and attack and stop them getting into the game,” said head coach Heiko Herrlich before the match. Lars Bender led the side out as captain as usual in his 200th Bundesliga appearance, and he provided the first moment of action in the fifth minute when he warmed the gloves of Borussia goalkeeper Yann Sommer from outside the area. The visitors replied a minute later with a shot from Vincenzo Grifo which tested Bernd Leno for the first time. Kai Havertz had another effort on goal a few minutes later, but again it was little trouble for the goalkeeper.

The Werkself posed more of a threat, had more possession and the clearer chances. Charles Aránguiz with a free-kick (18’) and Bailey with a left-footed shot (22’) had the next opportunities. Moments later, the Jamaican fired wide again on the counter, failing to see the run of the unmarked Aránguiz. The pressure from the hosts was increasing and Kevin Volland had a great opportunity with his head in the 36th minute. Bailey, now playing on the right, delivered an inviting cross to the striker but he headed inches wide of the post from close range.


However, three minutes later the Werkself finally took the lead. Bailey again went down the right and dinked another perfect cross towards Volland, who headed the ball back on a plate for Alario. The Argentinian swept it in to make it 1-0 with his seventh goal of the season.

Herrlich’s men stayed on the front foot and went in search of a second goal, while Gladbach were offering little in attack. Alario came close to getting it on the stroke of half-time when his curling effort from just outside the area bounced narrowly wide of the right post.

After the break, the Werkself picked up from where they left off, particularly with Bailey’s pace down the right. Just three minutes into the second period, the Jamaican set up the impressive Alario who headed just wide of the left post. Bayer 04 continued to set the tone of the game, winning their tackles and looking dangerous whenever they attacked. And again and again, it was Alario on the end of it. In the 63rd minute, he again linked up with Volland but his close-range shot was blocked by Jannik Vestergaard.


Bailey made way for Julian Brandt on 68 minutes, with Volland switching to the right and Brandt taking up position on the left. The Werkself continued to control proceedings but had to be on their toes as Mönchengladbach upped the pressure in search of an equaliser. The visitors didn’t really threaten the Bayer 04 goal until the closing stages as the contest livened up again. Former Leverkusen man Josip Drmic had a free header from five yards out on 82 minutes but failed to hit the target. Leno then came to his team’s rescue when he produced a great reflex save to prevent an own goal from Wendell on 89 minutes.

As the game went into added time, Aránguiz had the next big chance for the hosts with a header before Brandt made it 2-0, finishing off a counter-attack after some excellent work from Alario.

The Werkself are back in action next Sunday in the derby against FC Köln. The match at the RheinEnergieStadion kicks off at 15:30 CET on 18 March.

Match stats:

Bayer 04: Leno – L. Bender, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell (Retsos 90+2)– Baumgartlinger, Aránguiz – Volland, Havertz (Kohr 85'), Bailey (Brandt 68') – Alario

Borussia Mönchengladbach : Sommer - Elvedi, Ginter, Vestergaard, Jantschke (Cuisance 71') - Kramer, Zakaria (Drmic 79') - T. Hazard, Grifo - Stindl, Bobadilla (Hofmann 64')

Golas: 1-0 Alario (39'), 2-0 Brandt (90+3)

Referee: Robert Hartmann (Wangen)

Booked: Zakaria, Vestergaard, Kramer

Attendance: 28,809

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