Anastasios Donis scored the only goal of the game for VfB Stuttgart in a 1-0 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday, giving his side a lifeline in their efforts to avoid the drop and denting their visitors' hopes of a top-four finish.
VfB Stuttgart 1-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Goals: 1-0 Donis (56')
Stuttgart came into the game without a win since Matchday 24, but they began brightly in interim coach Nico Willig's first match at the helm. The hosts were far more assured at the back than in recent weeks, and Nicolas Gonzalez was a tireless blur of movement up front as they looked for an opening goal. Nevertheless, Gladbach, eyeing a return to the UEFA Champions League, grew into the game and could have gone into the half-time break with the lead, but Alassane Plea and Jonas Hofmann were unable to convert their most presentable chances, leaving the match goalless at the interval.
The home side emerged with greater intensity for the second 45 minutes and it was not long before Daniel Didavi tested Yann Sommer with a header, soon to be followed by Donis hitting the post. The young Greek forward did find the net moments later though, superbly rolling his body around Nico Elvedi to latch onto Didavi's lofted pass and lash the ball past Yann Sommer from just inside the penalty area. Gladbach subsequently surged forward and it was one-way traffic towards the Stuttgart goal as the final whistle approached, but the home team defended valiantly in numbers to secure three crucial points as they seek to defend the relegation play-off spot from 17th-placed Nuremberg, and stage a late comeback to catch Schalke ahead of them.
- Willig took charge of a Bundesliga match for the first time.
- Ron-Robert Zieler made his 250thBundesliga appearance here.
- Donis' goal was his fourth of the season and first in exactly three months since finding the net against Bayern Munich on 27 January.
- Five of Donis' six Bundesliga goals have given Stuttgart the lead.
- Stuttgart have won six and drawn three goals after taking the lead this season. They are now unbeaten in the last 19 outings in which they have scored the first goal.
- This was just Stuttgart's second win in their last 11 competitive fixtures with Gladbach, a period in which they have scored just five goals.
Stuttgart: Zieler – Pavard, Kabak, Kempf, Sosa – Beck (c), Castro, Aogo (Insua 71') – Didavi (Gomez 78') – Donis (Esswein 67'), Gonzalez
Unused subs: Grahl, Baumgartl, Thommy, Badstuber
Out: Ascacibar (suspended), Gentner (calf), Maffeo (not considered), Zuber (knee)
Coach: Nico Willig
Gladbach: Sommer (c) – Ginter, Strobl (Wendt 57'), Elvedi – Herrmann, Kramer (Cuisance 71'), Zakaria, Hofmann (Traore 67') – Neuhaus – Hazard, Plea
Unused subs: Sippel, Drmic, Johnson, Jantschke
Out: Doucoure (thigh), Lang (hip), Raffael (calf), Stindl (shin)
Coach: Dieter Hecking