Mönchengladbach - Borussia Mönchengladbach made it two wins from two at the start of 2015 with a 1-0 victory over SC Freiburg at the Borussia Park.
Herrmann strikes again
Patrick Herrmann's goal after 23 minutes - his second in as many games - was enough for Lucien Favre's side to tighten their grip on third place after Freiburg's valiant second-half efforts came to no avail.
A Gladbach side unchanged from Matchday 18's 1-0 win away at Stuttgart immediately set the tone for the first half. Favre's men harassed Freiburg, forcing the visitors into careless mistakes and carving out several early opportunities. The scorer of the winning goal against Stuttgart, Herrmann, tested Roman Bürki’s reflexes with a stinging shot in the second minute, before Branimir Hrgota poked a one-on-one wide soon afterwards. Bürki repelled another Herrmann effort in the seventh minute as the Foals' flying start showed no signs of abating.
Unsurprisingly given Gladbach's pressing, Freiburg's best chances came from distance, and although Mike Frantz powered over the bar and Vladimir Darida tested Yann Sommer, it was the irrepressible Herrmann who gave the hosts a deserved lead at the other end. After a lightning counter-attack in the 23rd minute, Hrgota's low ball was driven past Bürki for the winger's second goal of the Rückrunde.
Kruse comes close
The goal played into Gladbach's hands, allowing them to soak up Freiburg's pressure before breaking with pace. The visitors were being crowded out as soon as they crossed the halfway line, and it was Max Kruse who almost doubled the score when he stung Bürki's palms in the 37th minute. Christian Streich's men probed tirelessly, coming closest to an equaliser a minute before the break, but Nils Petersen's tame effort was easily repelled by Sommer.
Within three minutes of the restart, Freiburg again threatened Sommer's goal. Gladbach left-back Oscar Wendt failed to clear a cross, and Felix Klaus' low effort from an angle flashed across the face of the goal. Freiburg's pressing was bringing them closer, but the hosts - boasting the second-best defensive record in the league - were absorbing the pressure and relying on Kruse and Herrmann's efforts on the break.
Freiburg crank it up
The visitors upped the ante in an effort to equalise as the hour mark passed. Jonathan Schmid's set-pieces were being dealt with comfortably by the Gladbach defence, but Frantz remained a thorn in their side. His powerful drive from the edge of the box in the 70th minute lacked the direction to trouble Sommer, but Immanuel Höhn should have levelled three minutes later from Schmid's free kick.
Höhn's effort ensured Freiburg tails were up as they hunted an equaliser, with Darida's effort from distance well blocked. Although Kruse poked wide a chance to put the game to bed after good wing-play from Fabian Johnson, it was Schmid who should have had the final say as his snapshot with five minutes remaining drew a good save from Sommer. As it was, Herrmann's opener sufficed and Gladbach, despite the late scare, remain in third.
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