Mönchengladbach - Another year, another home draw against Bayer Leverkusen. Saturday's six-goal thriller at the Borussia Park extended Mönchengladbach's winless home run against their Rhineland rivals to a scarcely credible 21 games in the league stretching back 24 years.
"Made life hard for us"
With all but five of those matches ending with honours even, the outcome of the latest chapter in the saga perhaps comes as no real surprise. On this occasion, as Borussia head coach Lucien Favre readily acknowledged, the Foals had reason to be "more than satisfied" with the share of the spoils they took courtesy of a last-gasp leveller from Patrick Herrmann.
For his part, Herrmann - who was not even born the last time Gladbach triumphed over Bayer at home in the Bundesliga - reckoned the draw was ultimately "not undeserved, on the back of having put three goals past Leverkusen". Speaking with bundesliga.com after the topsy-turvy encounter, which saw Borussia twice go in front against the run of play before having to battle back themselves, the Germany Under-21 international revealed that when Juan Arango curled in his 86th-minute free kick, "I wasn't actually supposed to get so far forward, but I just had a feeling the ball might end up there".
Lauding the team spirit that enabled the hosts to take something from a game in which they had found themselves outplayed for long periods, Herrmann admitted that "Leverkusen were strong opponents. They made life pretty hard for us in the first half, but just weren't able to put away their chances. They did a better job of that after the break..." And while the match may have provided thrills aplenty for the fans, as far as the home players were concerned, "chasing after the ball all the time wasn't very pleasant. That's not really something you enjoy as a footballer, but it's all part of the job. What matters most is that we took a point in the end".
"We're all still learning"
Indeed - a point which keeps Favre's troops on the fringes of the extremely tight tussle for UEFA Europa League places and further underscores their regained reputation for being a tough team to beat. Just one loss in their last ten competitive outings is a welcome morale-booster ahead of the challenge of Thursday's home meeting with Serie A heavyweights SS Lazio in the first knockout round of the aforementioned Europa League.
The famously meticulous Swiss head coach, watching a replay of one of the Leverkusen goals in the mixed zone after the match, was moved to comment: "Mon dieu - a lot of work, a lot of work." Gladbach youth academy product Herrmann, who himself turns 22 on Tuesday, is well aware that "we do have a lot of hard work ahead of us, not least on the back of having conceded three goals. We're still a very young team and making the odd mistake. We need to put a stop to that. We're all still learning - but we're getting there".