Stuttgart - Borussia Mönchengladbach's hopes of embedding themselves in the top six took a hit on Sunday as the Foals suffered a 2-0 defeat away to VfB Stuttgart.
Stuttgart on top
An Alvaro Dominguez own goal put the guests on the back foot, before Christian Gentner's skillful lob extended Stuttgart's lead before the break. The hosts remained in control throughout and could have won by a higher margin, but will nonetheless be content with a first home win of the calendar year.
Despite sitting just three places above the relegation zone, Stuttgart did not begin like a side who have limped through the season thus far. The energetic hosts pushed high up the pitch, refusing Gladbach any time to settle on the ball and it wasn't long before their pressure produced the first clear sight of goal. Christian Molinaro fizzed in a cross from the left, but Martin Harnik was unable to direct his close-range header past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
With Stuttgart pressing, Gladbach sensed their best route to goal was to exploit the pace of Patrick Herrmann in behind. However, they were made to wait almost 20 minutes to register their first shot, with Tolga Cigerci snatching his first-time effort just wide. It did little to disrupt the overall balance of power, though, with the hosts sticking to their game plan and suffocating Gladbach deep in their own half.
They were rewarded with two goals in quick succession, as first Dominguez inadvertently headed into his own net from Alexandru Maxim's teasing free-kick, before Gentner took advantage of a defensive misunderstanding to nip in between Tony Jantschke and ter Stegen and lob home from an acute angle. The visitors mustered a couple of half-hearted attempts at an equaliser before the break, but never seriously threatened Sven Ulreich's goal.
Gladbach looked fresh after the restart but soon lost heart as their attacks were snuffed out by the Stuttgart defence. As if intent on showing them how it was done, the home side attacked with far greater purpose and might have gone further in front through good efforts from Ibrahima Traore and Vedad Ibisevic.
Lucien Favre brought on Mike Hanke and Peniel Mlapa to try and breathe fresh life into the Gladbach attack late on, but their introductions failed to stem the tide of a Stuttgart team determined to grab a third.
There were to be no further goals, however, meaning the Swabians all but extinguished any lingering relegation doubts by increasing the buffer above the drop zone to 12 points. European qualification is still a possibility for Gladbach, but they will struggle on the evidence of this lacklustre display.
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