Regional rivals Fortuna Düsseldorf and Borussia Mönchengladbach had to settle for a share of the spoils as the Bundesliga's first Rhine derby of the season ended goalless at the ESPRIT Arena on Saturday night.
Arango pulls the strings
There was little to choose between the two sides in a keenly-contested encounter, with clear-cut chances at a premium. Fortuna will undoubtedly be the happier with the result as both sides maintain their unbeaten starts to the new Bundesliga campaign.
Centre-back Alvaro Dominquez took his league bow for the Foals, with Tolga Cigerci also involved from the off, rifling wide of the upright in the opening minute. Fortuna were slow to settle, very nearly falling behind as goalkeeper Fabian Giefer flapped at a long throw and Mönchengladbach defender Martin Stranzl lifted the loose ball over the crossbar.
Juan Arango looked to capitalise on the home side's nervy start, but his fourth-minute free kick was punched back out to Havard Nordtveidt, who saw his rising drive swatted to safety. Axel Bellinghausen's purposeful run earned the hosts some respite just short of the ten-minute mark, but Max Kruse failed to make anything of the ensuing corner.
Giefer in resilient mood
Against the backdrop of a 30,000-strong ESPRIT Arena crowd, Fortuna settled as the half wore on, with Bellinghausen unlucky not to get something on Kruse's inviting cross and capping an all-action display with the game's first booking 25 minutes in. Mönchengladbach were always a threat at the other end, though, as Luuk De Jong twice tested the reflexes of Giefer, the second effort an acrobatic first-time volley from Arango's audacious right-wing cross.
Mönchengladbach continued to carry the greater scoring threat after the restart as Cigerci fired narrowly wide from the edge of the area. The pace with which the visitors were moving the ball was a worry for the Fortuna back four, but too often the final ball was lacking. Giefer was again called upon in the 50th minute, though, this time diving high to his right to deny Arango's fierce 18-yarder.
Fortuna saw half-hearted penalty appeals waved away after Stranzl appeared to go through the back of Kruse following a promising counter, before coach Norbert Meier showed his cards with the 59th-minute introduction of Augsburg-slayer Dani Schahin. Last week's joker was in the thick of things five minutes later, poking Tobias Levels' cross into the side netting.
The striker's arrival certainly gave the home side more of an attacking presence, but with plenty of space to manoeuvre following a swift counter, Kruse dragged wide. Fatigue certainly had a part to play in the final ten minutes, with the Foals beginnning to feel the after-effects of a midweek trip to Kyiv, but Fortuna were unable to find a way through.
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