Breel Embolo struck twice as Borussia Mönchengladbach rekindled their hopes of qualifying for Europe next season with a lightning-fast start at home to Arminia Bielefeld, scoring three times in the opening 18 minutes to pave the way for a 5-0 triumph.
Embolo scored the only goal of the game when the teams last met, and he was on target again within six minutes as the hosts went on the front foot from the off. Hannes Wolf released Stefan Lainer into space down the right, and his low cross into the box was swept in, via a deflection, by Embolo. The same duo combined again just two minutes later, although this time Stefan Ortega kept out the Swiss forward's header at full stretch. There was nothing the Bielefeld goalkeeper could do about Gladbach's next goal though, as Wolf sprinted into space on the left, and his low ball to the near post was flicked in by Marcus Thuram on the quarter-hour mark. The game was effectively killed off just three minutes later when the Foals were awarded a penalty after a handball from Christian Gebauer, with Ramy Bensebaini converting from the spot. The hosts eased off somewhat after that, although they remained on top and went into the break having had 65 per cent of possession, and six shots on target to Bielefeld's one.
Bielefeld coach Frank Kramer made two changes at the interval in an attempt to provide some resistance, with Andreas Voglsammer and Fabian Kunze taking to the field for the second half. The changes appeared to have the desired effect and the guests had their first chance of note in the 53rd minute when Arne Maier drilled in a shot from a tight angle that Yann Sommer did well to tip over the bar. Sommer produced another superb stop on the hour-mark when Nathan de Medina's cross found Gebauer arriving unmarked at the back post, but somehow the Gladbach custodian kept out his close-range effort. Embolo was sent through on goal by Florian Neuhaus shortly afterwards, but his attempted pass to the better-placed Thuram was intercepted by a defender. The 24-year-old soon made amends, though, coolly curling in his second of the game to finish off a brilliant series of one-touch passes on the edge of the Bielefeld box. Substitute Alassane Plea added a fifth late on to put the seal on a win that keeps them in seventh place, four points behind sixth-placed Bayer Leverkusen.
- Gladbach scored with their first shot of the game, and with three of their first five.
- Embolo now has five league goals this season, having ended a 15-game scoring drought since his last effort (also against Bielefeld on Matchday 14). This was his fourth Bundesliga brace.
- Thuram took his Bundesliga goal tally to seven this term, six of which have come on home turf.
- Gladbach have been awarded more penalties (11) and scored more from the spot (10) than any other team this season.
- Bensebaini has scored all three Bundesliga penalties he has taken; he was successful from the spot twice last term.
- The Foals have secured European qualification in six of their previous 10 Bundesliga campaigns, finishing in the top-half of each of those.
Watch: Ginter: "Embolo's a real weapon with his power"
Gladbach: Sommer (c) - Lainer (Beyer 85'), Ginter, Elvedi, Bensebaini (Jantschke 85') - Zakaria, Neuhaus (Kramer 75') - Lazaro (Wendt 75'), Wolf, Thuram (Plea 75') - Embolo
Unused subs: Sippel, Herrmann, Traore, Hofmann
Out: Stindl (muscular)
Coach: Marco Rose
Bielefeld: Ortega - de Medina, Pieper, Nilsson, Lucoqui - Okugawa (Kunze 46'), Prietl, Maier - Doan, Gebauer (Schipplock 76') - Klos (c) (Voglsammer 46')
Unused subs: Linner, Laursen, van der Hoorn, Souko, Vlap, Hartel
Out: Brunner (suspended), Cordova (not included)
Coach: Frank Kramer
Watch: Kramer: "We were just running in a wheel"