Mönchengladbach - Borussia Mönchengladbach made mathematically sure of their qualification for next season’s UEFA Europa League with a deserved 3-1 win over fellow European hopefuls 1. FSV Mainz 05.
Stranzl on target
The hosts had a six-point lead over eighth spot ahead of the season’s penultimate round of games, and goals from Martin Stranzl, Max Kruse and Christoph Kramer meant they will definitely be enjoying continental football at the Borussia Park next season. Maxim Choupo-Moting managed to find the net for Mainz, but they must wait until the campaign’s final day to discover if they will be joining the Foals in Europe in 2014/15.
Just two points separated the hosts in sixth and the visitors in seventh going into the game, but proceedings began in a somewhat cagey fashion, with both defences picking up where they left off after their respective clean sheets against FC Schalke 04 and 1. FC Nürnberg last weekend.
Zdenek Pospech got the wrong side of Borussia’s Alvaro Dominguez but could only drive a cross into the arms of Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Christoph Moritz fired a speculative effort over, before Gladbach opened the scoring with a simple set-piece on 23 minutes. Dominguez got up well to head a deep free-kick across goal to the back post and Stranzl was on hand to turn the ball in unchallenged.
Kruse makes it two
Mainz had offered little in attack, save from the set-piece deliveries of Johannes Geis, but a lovely move just before the break almost brought them an equaliser. Geis picked out a clever run from Shinji Okazaki, whose pass allowed Junior Diaz to cross into the box, where Elkin Soto’s glancing header brought an excellent save out of ter Stegen.
The visitors upped the tempo in the early moments of the second half and ter Stegen again showed excellent agility to tip a deflected Soto shot wide, an act that proved to be a turning point. Just a few moments later, Gladbach broke at speed and Kruse, after initially miscontrolling Patrick Herrmann’s pass, recovered superbly to curl a superb strike into the far corner.
Mainz were on the ropes when Loris Karius had to react brilliantly to divert a Herrmann header onto the crossbar, and it seemed to galvanise Thomas Tuchel’s side, with Choupo-Moting pulling one back with a well-placed header to finish off an excellent move. Their hopes of an equaliser and a possible point from the encounter were dashed, however, when Kramer crowned another tireless display with a third, cracking a low drive into the corner.
It was a perfect result for Lucien Favre's men in their final home game of the season, but Tuchel’s men will be looking nervously over their shoulders as we enter the final week of the campaign, particularly with FC Augsburg’s last-ditch win at Eintracht Braunschweig, which leaves them just one point behind the 05ers.
Line-ups and statistics
See ter Stegen's emotional farewell in this video, courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel.