Borussia Mönchengladbach booked a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League after goals from Jonas Hofmann and Breel Embolo against Hertha Berlin sealed a top-four finish.
Gladbach went into the final day of the season with destiny in their own hands, and they wasted little time in strengthening their position against mid-table Hertha. Embolo smartly held off Hertha defender Dedryck Boyata inside the area, and then outmuscled the Belgian to tee up Hofmann to fire home through the legs of visiting right-back Alexander Esswein. Despite missing Marcus Thuram through injury and fellow French attacker Alassane Plea only being fit enough for the bench, the home side continued to look dangerous. Midway through the half, captain Lars Stindl had a shot parried away by Hertha goalkeeper Dennis Smarsch – who was making his first Bundesliga start – before Florian Neuhaus forced another save. The impressive Embolo was then denied by a last-gasp tackle from Esswein, but recovered the ball instantly to flash a fierce drive across goal. Stindl later struck the inside of the post after a poor clearance from Esswein before Patrick Herrmann stung the palms of Smarsch again.
Hertha responded by making three changes at the break, with Mathew Leckie, Arne Maier, and Per Skjelbred sent in to try and turn the tide. Hertha finally had a goal attempt on 55 minutes, but Leckie was unable to keep down his volleyed effort from inside the penalty area. Embolo then fizzed a shot wide of the Hertha goal before Maier finally forced home keeper Yann Sommer into a comfortable save. Gladbach substitute Ibrahima Traore saw a deflected effort go past the post before Embolo got the goal his performance deserved. Hofmann made the most of a quick corner to return the favour from the opening half and leave the Swiss striker with a tap-in at the back post. Jessic Ngankam set up fellow substitute Vedad Ibisevic for an injury-time consolation goal for Hertha, but Gladbach held on to finish fourth.
- Gladbach had 13 shots to Hertha’s none in the first half.
- Hofmann got his fifth goal of the campaign, which matches his previous best tally. The 27-year-old found the net twice in the Foals’ last home game – a 3-0 success against Wolfsburg on Matchday 32.
- Switzerland international Embolo finished his first year since a switch from Schalke with a total of eight league goals.
- Only champions Bayern Munich (41) claimed more points at home this season than Gladbach (38), with the Foals winning 12 out of 17 such games.
- Gladbach have won nine of their last 12 Bundesliga meetings with Hertha – their best head-to-head record of all Bundesliga clubs across that timeframe.
- Bruno Labbadia had four wins in nine matches as Hertha boss to lift them to a tenth-place finish.
Watch: Hofmann: "Now we can put our feet up a bit"
Gladbach: Sommer - Lainer (Jantschke 90+2'), Ginter, Elvedi, Bensebaini - Kramer, Neuhaus - Herrmann (Traore 60'), Stindl (c) (Raffael 90+2'), Hofmann - Embolo (Benes 89')
Unused subs: Sippel, Doucoure, Plea, Wendt, Quizera
Out: Thuram (ankle), Zakaria (knee), Strobl (hamstring)
Coach: Marco Rose
Hertha: Smarsch - Esswein (Leckie 45'), Boyata, Torunarigha, Plattenhardt (Maier 45') - Stark (c), Grujic (Skjelbred 45') (Ngankam 76') - Lukebakio, Darida (Ibisevic 67'), Cunha - Piatek
Unused subs: Klatte, Köpke, Dardai, Rekik
Out: Ascacibar (foot), Dilrosun (thigh), Kalou (not included), Klünter (suspended), Mittelstädt (glandular fever), Pekarik (muscular), Wolf (ankle)
Coach: Bruno Labbadia