Mönchengladbach - Andre Hahn and the returning Max Kruse starred as Borussia Mönchengladbach picked up their first win of the season, beating FC Schalke 04 4-1 on Saturday evening.
Hahn opens Foals account
Hahn curled in a precise first-half effort before adding a header just after the restart. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s penalty to make it 2-1 gave Schalke a brief flicker of hope, but man of the match Kruse and the effervescent Raffael struck to give the hosts a fully deserved victory.
After a relatively cagey start, the game exploded into life on 17 minutes when the hosts took the lead in emphatic fashion. Kruse spotted the run of Hahn, and the summer arrival from FC Augsburg cashed in on his clear path to goal by placing a delightful shot high inside Ralf Fährmann’s near post.
Raffael’s neat touches in midfield were causing major problems for the Royal Blues, and the Brazilian twice went close after surging runs from midfield. At the other end, Schalke showed little cut and thrust in attack, but would have been level had Christian Fuchs coverted on the rebound after Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had been thwarted by Yann Sommer.
That moment aside, Borussia were well on top and winning most of the 50-50s in midfield. World Cup winner Christoph Kramer’s touch was heavy after a lung-busting run and cross from Oscar Wendt, before the midfielder then saw a deflected drive drift agonisingly wide of the far post.
Borussia extended their lead straight after the restart when Hahn headed in a second, but less than a minute later the visitors were gifted a route back into the game. Martin Stranzl needlessly handled in the area, and Choupo-Moting stroked home the resulting spot-kick. Yet again the pendulum swung, however, as Kruse made it 3-1 following more brilliant work from Raffael.
Gladbach too good
Having already introduced Julian Draxler from bench, Jens Keller reacted by bringing on star striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but the home side were still well on top, with Hahn and Raffael threatening to add to the scoreline. Formerly a Schalke player himself, the ball finally fell kindly for Raffael to notch his first of the season, and the goal his performance had deserved, with ten minutes remaining.
Gladbach were, to all intents and purposes, home and dry, but there was still time in the closing moments for Sommer to distinguish himself with a brilliant save from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's header. The Dutchman and his team are still without a win this season, but the Rhinelanders' campaign has well and truly begun.
Bernie Reeves reporting from the Borussia-Park
Line-ups and statistics