Mönchengladbach – Borussia Mönchengladbach recorded their fifth straight league victory with a hard-fought 1-0 win at home to strugglers SC Freiburg.
Chances at both ends
Raffael scored the only goal of the game just after the hour mark to maintain the Foals’ push for Europe and leave the visitors stranded perilously close to the automatic relegation places in the Bundesliga.
Having won their previous four domestic encounters, Gladbach started the match in confident fashion, passing the ball around with ease in the opening stages. Their first real chance fell just before the quarter-hour mark. Juan Arango’s clever pass carved open the Freiburg defence, but Patrick Herrmann failed to trouble Oliver Baumann in the visitors’ goal, firing over from deep inside the penalty area.
Despite the Foals’ stranglehold on possession, it was the visitors who almost broke the deadlock halfway through the first period. After Admir Mehmedi had stung the gloves of Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a rasping long-range effort, former Gladbach striker Mike Hanke almost came back to haunt his former employers inside the six-yard box, but the 30-year-old headed over under pressure from ter Stegen.
Herrmann hits the woodwork
At the other end, Arango was proving a constant menace to the Black Forest club’s defence. Yet another defence-splitting pass from the Venezuelan was almost expertly converted by Herrmann, but Baumann was able to tip the 22-year-old’s spectacular volley onto the crossbar. Max Kruse, searching for his eighth Bundesliga goal of the season, then fired over as the hosts finished the half strongly.
The second period began in the same vein as the first, with Gladbach controlling possession and Freiburg sitting deep inside their own half. Mehmedi posted another warning signal for the hosts ten minutes in, however, with a shot from the edge of the area that ter Stegen was able to gather. Moments later, Sebastian Freis was played clean through by Francis Coquelin, but failed to make proper contact with the French youngster’s pass over the home defence.
Raffael breaks the deadlock
The only goal of the game, which came with just over an hour on the clock, was a culmination of a wonderful flowing Gladbach move: Herrmann played the ball through to Oscar Wendt on the left-hand side of the penalty area and the Swedish full-back’s first-time ball across the face of goal was tapped home by the onrushing Raffael for his seventh strike of the current campaign. Arango could have doubled the hosts’ lead soon after, but his 20-yard free-kick was easily held by Baumann.
The game became stretched in the final ten minutes as Freiburg started to pile men forward in search of a late equaliser, leaving themselves exposed to Gladbach’s quick counterattacks. Raffael almost got on the end of Herrmann’s cross from the left, but Fallou Diagne was able to clear. The Brazilian was given a standing ovation when he was replaced by Luuk de Jong five minutes from time and his goal turned out to be enough to earn Gladbach their seventh straight home league victory - a new club record.
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