Bremen - Borussia Mönchengladbach secured a place in the group stages of next season's UEFA Champions League thanks to a gritty 2-0 win away to SV Werder Bremen.
Raffael scored twice in the second half to give the Foals an unassailable five-point lead over fourth-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen with only one round of league fixtures still to play.
The Werder faithful showed their appreciation to captain Sebastian Prödl, nine-goal striker Davie Selke and goalkeeper Koen Casteels prior to kick-off - the Bremen trio making their final appearances at the Weser Stadion before moving on to pastures new in the summer. The game itself got underway a good five minutes later than scheduled owing to a road accident en route to the ground, not that either side suffered for it.
Bremen’s midfielders were seeing plenty of the ball early on, with Selke glancing a peach of a right-wing cross from Levin Öztunali over the crossbar after seven minutes. The Foals responded in kind as Granit Xhaka tested Casteels from range, before a probing low cross from Oscar Wendt took a wicked deflection off Prödl and struck the upright.
Theodor Gebre Selassie went close with a swerving effort from 20 yards, but the best chance of the half fell to Borussia defender Alvaro Dominguez, who was unable to beat Casteels from close range after a corner had been flicked back across goal.
Sommer followed suit with a stunning reaction save to deny Selke a farewell goal soon after the restart, the Swiss international diving to his left to push the 20-year-old’s first-time effort onto the post following a slalom run from Öztunali.
Raffael bundles home
The pendulum swung decisively in Gladbach's favour as Raffael gave the visitors a 53rd-minute lead. The Brazilian playmaker didn’t get much on Max Kruse’s left-wing cross, but neither Casteels nor Jannik Vestergaard was able to prevent the ball from trickling over the line.
With the Foals having conceded just seven second-half goals since the winter break, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for the hosts, and so it proved. Gladbach substitute Andre Hahn teed up Raffael for an easy second to leave the Green-Whites needing to beat Borussia Dortmund on the final day whilst hoping Jürgen Klopp's side lose the DFB Cup final with VfL Wolfsburg in order to reach the UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds.
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