Mitchel Bakker, who played a crucial part in the first and third goals with his left foot, was very satisfied. "We played really well and enjoyed it on the pitch as much as our fans. May it carry on like that for us, I'm really happy," said the Dutch left-back.
Head coach Gerardo Seoane only made one change to his starting eleven in the match at Union Berlin: Paulinho took the place of Nadiem Amiri. New signing Robert Andrich started on the bench as did Florian Wirtz, who was sidelined last week due to a groin problem. The Ecuadorian new signing Piero Hincapie, who only ended his quarantine on Friday, was not in the squad along with the injured Karim Bellarabi, Lucas Alario, Edmond Tapsoba and Timothy Fosu-Mensah also ruled out.
Fans finally back at the BayArena, atmosphere in the stands at last – it was the long-missed, exciting relationship between team and fans, the return of the feeling of us. Ahead of the game, Olympic gold medal winner Paulinho, U21 European Champion Florian Wirtz and Exequiel Palacios as a Copa América winner were met by applause from the crowd as they received recognition for their achievements from managing directors Fernando Carro, Rudi Völler and sporting director Simon Rolfes. It was down to business on the pitch after a minute's silence in memory of legend striker Gerd Müller who passed away last Sunday at the age of 75.
With the Germany coach Hansi Flick looking on, the Werkself were in attacking mode from the kick-off – and were rewarded after exactly 131 seconds: Mitchel Bakker hit a low shot from distance and the ball rebounded off the right-hand post and into the net off the leg of Gladbach keeper Sommer. What a start with the opening goal for the hosts celebrated by the fans. And Bayer 04 doubled their advantage shortly after that: Moussa Diaby raced down the right flank beating Joe Scally before crossing into the centre for Patrik Schick to put the ball into the back of the Gladbach net at the far post to make it 2-0 on eight minutes. Borussia looked all at sea in the opening minutes with the Werkself flying high as they eagerly engaged in every challenge.
The overwhelmed Gladbach side needed 15 minutes to get their first chance on goal: A clipped low shot from Jonas Hofmann glanced off the outside of the post (15'). Marcus Thuram then had to go off injured with Hannes Wolf coming on for Gladbach in place of the Frenchman. Borussia were lucky that Schick did not make it 3-0 following a mistake by Sommer when he let a cross from Diaby slip out of his hands – the ball trundled just wide of the target (20'). The atmosphere at the buzzing BayArena was electric and the team in Black and Red did everything to get the fans right behind them with strong vocal support – it was great the way the dynamic Bakker beat Stefan Lainer at the corner flag only for his cross to be cleared (28').
Bayer 04 cleverly packed the midfield where the outstanding Palacios and Aránguiz gave Borussia little space or time. Paulinho forced Sommer to make a save with a right-foot shot but he was in an offside position (37'). Schick skilfully used his body to evade Niko Elvedi and Matthias Ginter and then forced his way past Lainer but his attempt to nutmeg Sommer saw the Gladbach keeper get his leg in the way (39'). Then a moment of controversy: Bakker's foul on Lainer outside the box and on the line of the penalty area was deemed in the box and a penalty was awarded after the intervention of VAR but Lukas Hradecky brilliantly saved the spot-kick from Stindl aimed at the bottom right (43'). The impressive Werkself went into the half-time break with a deserved 2-0 lead.
After the restart, the visitors were clearly in search of a quick goal. The alert Odilon Kossounou blocked a shot from Florian Neuhaus that went out for a corner (49') and the following header from the midfielder flashed over the bar (50'). Bayer 04 allowed the opposition to come on to them – and then counter-attacked ruthlessly. The very impressive Bakker overlapped Paulinho on the left, received a pinpoint pass and crossed from the baseline to the far post where the unstoppable Diaby was able to hit a shot that deflected off Ramy Bensebaini into the net to make it 3-0 (55'). The next high-speed counter-attack ten minutes later down the right saw Jeremie Frimpong cross the ball into the middle for Schick whose shot hit the inside of the left-hand post (65').
Gerardo Seoane made a double change: Robert Andrich and Nadiem Amiri came on for Palacios and Paulinho (68'). Bayer 04 kept their foot on the gas full of passion and were again and again rewarded with applause from the stands. Gladbach continue to find it difficult to get into the game with Stindl curling the ball over the target from a good position (74'). Then the Werkself came again: After Demirbay broke down the left, Schick hit the ball narrowly past the far post (78'). Seoane again made two changes with Florian Wirtz and Joel Pohjanpalo replacing Demirbay and Schick (81').
A low shot from Hofmann was comfortably saved by Hradecky (83') and, in transition, Diaby missed the chance to beat Sommer to net the fourth goal following a pass from Pohjanpalo. Julian Baumgartlinger came on for Aránguiz (84'). Hradecky kept Hofmann out at the near post when he saved with his foot (85'). Two of the substitutes combined for the fourth goal: Wirtz squared the ball to Amiri in the penalty area and Sommer was unable to prevent the ball trickling over the line (87'). Everybody was on their feet at the BayArena. Shortly after that came the final whistle and the team celebrated with a lap of honour.
Bayer 04 are away to FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga in the next match on Saturday, 28 August with the kick-off at 15.30 CEST.
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Frimpong, Kossounou, Tah, Bakker – Aránguiz (Baumgartlinger 84’), Palacios (Andrich 68’) – Diaby, Demirbay (Wirtz 81’), Paulinho (Amiri 68’) – Schick (Pohjanpalo 81’)
Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sommer – Lainer (Bensebaini 45’), Ginter (Netz 63’), Elvedi, Scally – Kramer, Neuhaus – Hofmann, Stindl, Thuram (Wolf 19’) – Plea (Herrmann 63’)
Goals: 1-0 Sommer (3’ o.g.), 2-0 Schick (8’), 3-0 Diaby (55’), 4-0 Amiri (87’)
Referee: Aytekin (Oberaspach)
Booked: Demirbay, Bakker, Paulinho, Diaby – Kramer, Wolf
Attendance: 15,105 (sell-out in accordance with coronavirus regulations)
Significant incidents: Hradecky saves penalty from Stindl (43’)
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