Mönchengladbach - The Rhineland derby lived up to its billing as Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer 04 Leverkusen took a point apiece from a six-goal thriller.
Martin Stranzl opened the scoring in somewhat surprising fashion, but it was the second half that had both sets on fans on their feet. Sidney Sam and Stefan Kießling struck either side of a Luuk de Jong header and, though Andre Schürrle thought he had bagged the winning goal, Patrick Herrmann was on hand to gatecrash the Leverkusen Karneval with a late header in the 3-3 draw.
It was one-way traffic in the opening exchanges with Leverkusen on the front foot from the first whistle. The visitors began carving out their chances as their decision to press high up the pitch forced Gladbach to give the ball away with alarming regularity. Schürrle fired over with a first-time effort, while Lars Bender couldn't beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen one-on-one after Bayer had sliced through the Foals' backline.
Without a shot on goal inside the opening half an hour Borussia were struggling to get to grips with the game and, with die Werkself dominating, it seemed only a matter of time before they opened the scoring. However, after Schürrle saw an effort ruled out for offside and Sebastian Boenisch stung the palms of ter Stegen from range, it was the Foals who went in front against the run of play. Stranzl climbed above Philipp Wollschied from a corner to beat a helpless Bernd Leno, sending Gladbach in at the break a goal to the good.
Having failed to win after conceding the first goal this season, Leverkusen came out of the changing rooms determined to right the wrongs of the first half and deservedly levelled the scores within six minutes of the restart. Schürrle played in Kießling, who, with his back to goal, had the presence of mind to tee-up Sam to curl an effort past ter Stegen from the edge of the box.
Despite restoring parity, Bayer looked vulnerable from corners as Leno was forced to produce top class saves from Stranzl and an offside Alvaro Dominguez. However, the German Under-21 keeper couldn't prevent his side falling behind for a second time when de Jong met Juan Arango's pin-point cross with a powerful header.
The visitors wasted no time in finding a response as Kießling bagged his 100th Bundesliga goal within seconds of his side going 2-1 down, tapping home Boenisch's drilled cross. Bayer were in the ascendency and duly took the lead for the first time in the match just past the hour mark. Taking advantage of Havard Nordtveit's complacency in possession, Castro released Schürrle, who demonstrated his composure by rolling past the onrushing ter Stegen.
Having gone in front Leverkusen looked to maintain control as they focused on keeping things tight at the back in the closing stages. Schürrle and Simon Rolfes squandered half-chances, but there was a late sting in the tail for Bayer as Herrmann headed home from from Stranzl's knockdown. The visitors pilled forward, but couldn't muster a winner as ter Stegen denied both Rolfes and Kießling with reflex saves to ensure both sides took a share of the spoils.
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