Mönchengladbach - A wholehearted performance from Borussia Mönchengladbach secured a 1-0 victory over VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday evening, a result which gives the Foals a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds at the very least, and confirmed FC Bayern München's third successive Bundesliga title.
Hosts on top
Aside from a brief spell before half time, Gladbach controlled proceedings in the first half without being able to unlock a packed Wolves’ defence. The hosts continued to press in the second period, and after Patrick Herrmann and Fabian Johnson had come close, Max Kruse volleyed home a 90th-minute winner.
With Bayern watching closely, Gladbach made a composed start. The hosts kept the ball with ease and twice threatened in the opening stages through Raffael’s free kick and Herrmann’s driving run. Although neither chance was converted, Lucien Favre’s side went even closer when Granit Xhaka tested Diego Benaglio in the 11th minute before Johnson’s shot ended on the roof of the net.
One Daniel Caligiuri effort aside, Wolfsburg offered little in the face of Gladbach’s ball retention. The visitors gradually began to settle but were denied repeatedly by the Foals’ defensive organisation and Herrmann went within inches of the opener on the counter in the 21st minute, sliding in just too late at the back post. Despite the scare, Dieter Hecking’s side continued to recycle possession, but the sum total of their efforts was a Nicklas Bendtner half-chance moments before the half-hour mark.
To and fro
While unable to penetrate, Wolfsburg’s possession had taken the sting out of Gladbach’s attacking thrusts. Indeed, as Kevin De Bruyne dropped deeper, the visitors looked more dangerous, with the Belgian teeing up Bendtner, who shot wide, in the 34th minute, before rifling over himself. The Wolves continued to enjoy the better of the play before half time, with Ricardo Rodriguez underlining their threat by firing narrowly over.
Gladbach emerged on the front foot after the break, however. Herrmann, at the forefront of his side’s best attacking moves, fired a powerful volley straight at Benaglio five minutes after the restart, before Oscar Wendt wasted a golden chance after some neat interplay with Johnson. The USA international skied a shot from the edge of the box before the hour, while Wolfsburg seemed reluctant to foray forward and allow the hosts space to counter.
Kruse seals it
Gladbach's control but a lack of cutting edge in front of goal was a tale which continued as the half wore on. Kruse shot wide from distance, while Xhaka’s powerful free kick met its match in the wall in the 68th minute. Wolfsburg, seemingly content to settle for a draw, rarely pressed forward, and when they did, their efforts came to nothing, as weak shots from Maximilian Arnold and Bendtner highlighted.
Gladbach continued to push for the opener in final ten minutes, and although the entrance of Robin Knoche looked to have stabilised the guests, the substitute was flat-footed at the back post when Kruse arrived at the last to volley finally past Benaglio, a finish which rubberstamped his side’s Champions League ticket and handed Bayern the title.
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