In addition to captain Lars Bender (knee), Bayer 04 had to manage without Lucas Alario for the final game of the year as the Argentinian was sidelined with a groin problem. In contrast, Sven Bender was available again after recovering from his rib injury. After the Bundesliga game at Hannover 96, Heiko Herrlich brought in Wendell, returning after suspension, Dominik Kohr, Julian Baumgartlinger, Leon Bailey and Kevin Volland into the starting line-up. Benny Henrichs, Karim Bellarabi and Admir Mehmedi were on the bench and Charles Aránguiz was in the squad again after recovering from a calf injury. The Bayer 04 coach opted for a 4-1-4-1 formation with Panos Retsos at right back and Baumgartlinger playing in front of the back four.
The DFB Cup tie at Borussia Park kicked off with a 10-minute delay as many fans were still on their way to the stadium because of heavy traffic. Bayer 04 were first out of the blocks: A curler from Sven Bender to the far corner of the Gladbach goal was cleared off the line by Lars Stindl on four minutes and then the completely unmarked Julian Brandt headed wide of the target from a Retsos cross a minute later – that was a really good chance. At the other end, skipper for the day Bernd Leno made a flying save from a long-range effort from Stindl on seven minutes. With 15 minutes on the clock, Leno intervened following a mix-up between Baumgartlinger and Jonathan Tah and then Yann Sommer was in the right spot to save a right-foot shot from Bailey. It was a lively encounter at Borussia Park with a number of intense challenges.
Leno was centre stage again when he made a great save turning a low drive from Thorgan Hazard round the post on 18 minutes. And he reacted well to punch clear a Patrick Herrmann shot from close range on 21 minutes – two great saves by the Germany keeper against the increasingly determined hosts. An effort from Hazard was then calmly cleared off the line by Retsos just after the half-hour mark. Shortly after that, the crowd were on their feet after an aerial duel between the already booked Havertz and Matthias Ginter – referee Manuel Gräfe made it absolutely clear that the Bayer 04 youngster would not be given another chance. The two sides went in at half-time with the score at 0-0.
Havertz was replaced by Admir Mehmedi for the start of the second half. Leno was initially busy again saving shots from Michael Cuisance (48') and Hazard who was clean through on goal after Tah lost the ball on 51 minutes. The challenges grew ever more physical. And it was good that Sven Bender deflected a Stindl volley past the post (57'). The hosts were now on the front foot and the Werkself lacked precision in transition so they found it difficult to clear their lines. Bellarabi then came on for Brandt (68') – and Bayer 04 took a somewhat surprising lead: Volland put Bailey through from the halfway line and the Jamaican kept his cool in a one-on-one with Sommer and and he slotted the ball into the back of the net at the near post (70').
Gladbach reacted by bringing on the two forwards Vincenzo Grifo and Raul Bobadilla (76'/80'). However, Bayer 04 defended with fantastic passion with the outstanding Sven Bender and Baumgartlinger solid at the back with the result that they did not concede any clear goalscoring opportunities to Borussia - with the exception of a header from Jannik Vestergaard that flew over the top of the net (89'). At the other end of the pitch, a counter-attack ended with Sommer saving from Bellarabi and Mehmedi missing the chance to make it 2-0 on the rebound. A very bad foul by Denis Zakaria, that saw substitute Benny Henrichs hacked down, with the final action – after that there was sheer jubilation in the Black and Red camp.
For Bayer 04, the DFB Cup tie at Mönchengladbach is followed by a well-deserved but short break over Christmas and the New Year. Heiko Herrlich will lead the first open training session of 2018 for his players on Tuesday 2 January. The first match, marking the start of the second half of the Bundesliga campaign, is on Friday 12 January at 20.30 CET at the BayArena against titleholders and league leaders Bayern Munich.
Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sommer – Elvedi (Drmic 87'), Vestergaard, Ginter, Wendt – Oxford (Grifo 76'), Zakaria – Herrmann (Bobadilla 80'), Cuisance, Hazard – Stindl
Bayer 04: Leno – Retsos, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Baumgartlinger – Brandt (Bellarabi 67'), Kohr, Havertz (Mehmedi 46'), Bailey (Henrichs 90+ 1') – Volland
Goals: 0-1 Bailey (70')
Referee: Gräfe (Berlin)
Booked: Havertz, Volland, Baumgartlinger
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