VfB Stuttgart ensured the race for a place in next season's UEFA Europa Conference League will go down to the wire after coming from behind to beat Borussia Mönchengladbach, with goals from Wataru Endo and Sasa Kalajdzic cancelling out Lars Stindl's opener.
It was not until midway through the first half that either team was able to get in a shot on goal, with Alassane Plea's effort saved by Gregor Kobel. The offside flag curtailed Marcus Thuram's celebrations when he put the ball in the back of the net, but the chances were now arriving for Gladbach, who took a deserved lead on the stroke of half-time. Christoph Kramer carried the ball past three defenders and cut it back from the goalline for Stindl to volley in from just outside the six-yard box.
Chances remained few and far between in the second half, with much of the action confined to the central third of the field. Shortly after handing the captain's armband to Gonzalo Castro, Endo set the example his coach Pellegrino Matarazzo wanted to bring the guests level with a curling effort from just outside the penalty area. Suddenly, Stuttgart sensed an opportunity and Philipp Förster's low shot almost gave them the lead before Pascal Stenzel's effort did find a way through, courtesy of a deflection off Kalajdzic, to give the Swabians the lead. They held on for three crucial points, which means the race for seventh will be decided on the final day of the season, when Stuttgart host Arminia Bielefeld and Gladbach travel to Werder Bremen, with Union Berlin and Freiburg also still in contention.
- Stindl is the highest-scoring German national in this season’s Bundesliga with 13 goals.
- His previous best single-season haul was 11 in 2016/17.
- Plea, Kramer and Stindl were the only three changes to the Gladbach team following their defeat to Bayern - all three combined for the opening goal.
- Kalajdzic scored his sixth goal of the season in the final quarter of an hour - only Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski have more.
- Borussia have conceded the most goals of all teams in the top half of the standings (54), whilst dropping 29 points from winning positions this season.
Gladbach: Sommer (c) - Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Bensebaini - Kramer, Neuhaus (Zakaria 78') - Hofmann (Lazaro 65'), Stindl (c), Thuram – Plea (Embolo 78')
Unused subs: Sippel, Herrmann, Wolf, Beyer, Wendt, Jantschke
Out: Doucoure (Achilles' tendon)
Coach: Marco Rose
Stuttgart: Kobel - Mavropanos (Stenzel 34'), Anton, Kempf - Massimo, Endo, Karazor, Sosa (Castro 63') – Thommy (Churlinov 63'), Förster (Didavi 83') – Kalajdzic (Al Ghaddioui 83')
Unused subs: Bredlow, Klement, Mack, Sankoh
Out: Ahamada (suspended), Cisse (knee), Coulibaly (knee), Egloff (not included), Gonzalez (not included), Kaminski (not included), Klimowicz (groin), Mangala (thigh), Silas (knee)
Coach: Pellegrino Matarazzo