Munich - Borussia Mönchengladbach and VfB Stuttgart both moved into the top half of the Bundesliga table on Wednesday evening courtesy of wins that keep their European ambitions bubbling over. Gladbach made easy work of VfL Wolfsburg in a 2-0 home win, while Bruno Labbadia's VfB rode their luck to secure a narrow 2-1 win against bottom-of-the-table FC Augsburg.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 VfL Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, with Gladbach only choosing to close down their opponents in the final third, but after Alvaro Dominguez cleared Bas Dost's early header off the line, all it took was one chance for the hosts to go in front. Juan Arango's left foot did the damage once again as the Venezuelan allowed Havard Nordtveit's diagonal ball beyond the backline to come across his body before slamming an unstoppable first-time volley into the far corner.
The visitors were left reeling by the Foals' clinical counter, but soon began to find their way back into the encounter. Influential midfielder Diego gradually started to impose himself in the attacking third as he first forced Marc-Andre ter Stegen into an uncomfortable save from range, before curling a free-kick just past the post. However, just before half-time Borussia once again struck against the run of play as Tony Jantschke tucked home Nordtveit's corner at the back post to hand the host a comfortable lead at the break.
Wolves lack bite
Gladbach came out in the second-half intent on wrapping up the win, and their direct approach in switching from defence to attack continued to cause Wolfsburg problems. Nordtveit and Lukas Rupp both stung the palms of Diego Benaglio with efforts from range, but after a strong opening to the period, the hosts soon took their foot off the pedal as they focused on keeping things tight at the back.
Wolfsburg struggled to find a way through Borussia's two banks of four, often settling for half-chances out of frustration. Rasmus Jönsson failed to make the most of Arango's poor clearance, before Bas Dost then hit the post from a tight angle. The Wolves were continually thwarted by Gladbach's disciplined defensive unit in the closing stages and a distinct lack of ideas from either side allowed the hosts to kill off the game, moving themselves into the top half of the table.
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VfB Stuttgart 2-1 FC Augsburg
With points at a premium near the foot of the table it was clear to see that both Stuttgart and Augsburg were desperate to improve their situations as they looked break forward quickly at every opportunity. The hosts established an early grip on proceedings with Augsburg sitting deep and, after sending in two dangerous crosses that failed to find a teammate, Ibrahima Traore was on hand to break the deadlock against his former club from Vedad Ibisevic's pull back.
The visitors had their sights set on hitting the home side on the counter-attack, but with Stuttgart dominating possession, chances were few and far between for Markus Weinzierl's side and the pace of the game settled into a monotonous rhythm. Fortunately, after Rafael Holzhauser and Marcel de Jong exchanged tame free-kicks at either end, Ja-Cheol Koo breathed life back into the encounter by beating Sven Ulreich all ends up with a stunning drive from 25-yards on the stroke of half-time.
Stuttgart stay strong
Stuttgart immediately went about putting the visitors under pressure after the restart, but though the game opened up with both sides looking to put themselves ahead, a lack of quality in the final third meant the scoreline was rarely threatened. With twenty minutes remaining, though, Stuttgart retook the lead as Traore returned the earlier favour by finding Ibisevic with a free-kick that the Bosnian duly headed past Mohamed Amsif.
True to character Augsburg fought back, but found a worthy adversary in the form of Ulreich, who first denied Sascha Mölders' close-range effort and then Koo's toe-poke to prevent the visitors levelling scores. Weinzierl's charges threw the kitchen sink at the Swabian side in the closing stages, but it wasn't enough in the end as Stuttgart bounced back from a derby defeat to leave Augsburg rooted to the foot of the table.
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