Mönchengladbach - An 89th-minute goal from Juan Arango earned UEFA Champions League hopefuls Borussia Mönchengladbach a 1-1 home draw with VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 30, denying the Swabians two vital points in their own struggle against the drop.
Stuttgart quick out the blocks yet again
Daniel Didavi put the embattled visitors in front early in the first half and they looked to be heading for their first away win and a third clean sheet in six outings under Huub Stevens until the veteran Venezuelan playmaker struck at the last. Gladbach drop to fifth in the table behind Wolfsburg while Stuttgart, despite rueing the concession of yet another late goal, edge a point away from third-bottom Hamburg following the latter's defeat at Hannover 96.
After some cagey early jousting, Stuttgart struck out of the blue to break the deadlock on 12 minutes. Daniel Schwaab's cross from the right was miscued at the far post by Timo Werner, but fortuitously for the visitors the ball landed at the feet of Didavi, who planted it into the roof of the net for his first Bundesliga goal in two years, and his first-ever for VfB. It was also the 12th time Stuttgart had scored inside the opening quarter-hour this season, a division high.
18-year-old prospect Werner, chosen by Stevens to lead the line ahead of the off-form Vedad Ibisevic, had Havard Nordtveit and Roel Brouwers stretching in quick succession to keep him in check soon afterwards but as the half progressed, Gladbach gradually ratcheted up the pressure with their guests for the most part evidently willing at this stage to sit back and await another opportunity on the break.
Nine minutes before half time Arango tested Sven Ulreich for the first time with a header, which the VfB custodian pushed out in the direction of Patrick Herrmann before snaffling up the midfielder's attempt on the rebound as well. The final chances of the half all fell to Stuttgart, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen first foiling Martin Harnik one-on-one, then repeating the trick against Werner before Didavi headed fractionally wide in added time.
Gladbach came out after the interval with all guns blazing, Nordtveit belting a long-range effort just wide and Ulreich going full stretch soon after to keep out another blistering shot from Alvaro Dominguez. VfB's newfound defensive solidity continued to serve them well however and that, combined with their ever-present threat on the break, was soon proving as effective a foil to the home side's gameplan as it had in the first half.
With 20 minutes to go, Foals coach Lucien Favre brought on Granit Xhaka and Branimir Hrgota in an attempt to give a Stuttgart side prone to late lapses this season something new to think about. Xhaka's speculative 30-yard shot, which flew well over the bar with six minutes left seemed to be indicative of what was destined to be a frustrating afternoon for Borussia and on 87 minutes Ibrahima Traore came within inches of putting Stuttgart two to the good, thundering a free kick off the face of the bar.
Instead of being a welcome bonus however, that was to prove a costly near-miss as, with a minute of regular time remaining, Arango nodded Max Kruse's cross inside the far post to earn Gladbach a very late share of the spoils with his first-ever headed goal in the Bundesliga.
Line-ups and statistics
Find out if Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Sven Ulreich's stops made it into this weekend's Top 5 Saves on of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: