Mönchengladbach - FC Augsburg beat ten-man Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 on the final day to secure direct entry into the group stages of the UEFA Europa League for their first time in their history.
Gladbach on the backfoot
Trailing at the break to Raffael’s scrappy effort, Augsburg rallied in the second period, with Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg, Tim Matavz and Sascha Mölders on target after Havard Nordveit had been sent off for the hosts.
Christoph Kramer and Filip Daems were presented with bouquets ahead of kick-off, the Gladbach hierarchy and fans thanking both players for their services to the club ahead of new chapters in their respective careers. The Foals needed to win to have any chance of finishing the campaign as runners-up behind champions FC Bayern München, while Augsburg were hoping for at least a point to secure a place in the Europa League.
Given the circumstances, a tentative start was perhaps to be expected, although it was hosts Gladbach adopting the more cautious approach. It took a piece of desperate defending from Nordveit to prevent Tobias Werner from finding Halil Altintop in the Borussia penalty area, with a frustrating opening 25 minutes summed up by a couple of quick-fire bookings for Granit Xhaka and Patrick Herrmann.
Raffael breaks the deadlock
The atmosphere inside Borussia-Park picked up when Augsburg’s Ragnar Klavan was forced to take evasive action at the feet of Herrmann. Gladbach’s electric winger nevertheless went one better moments later, combining with Xhaka to tee up Raffael for his 12th league goal of the season, despite the best efforts of visiting goalkeeper Marwin Hitz.
Buoyed by an otherwise positive display, Augsburg continued to cause problems for the Gladbach back four. Yann Sommer spilled a routine-looking cross, but Abdul Rahman Baba’s goalbound strike was inadvertently diverted behind by team-mate Tobias Werner on the Gladbach line.
Augsburg make history
The Fuggerstädter’s hopes of getting something from the game received a timely boost with 29 minutes still to play as Nordtveit received his marching orders for a professional foul on Matavz. Augsburg duly seized control of the contest, with FC Bayern loanee Höjbjerg firing an absolutely unstoppable strike past Sommer from 20 yards.
It got better still for Markus Weinzierl’s side in the 77th minute when Matavz got on the end of Shawn Parker’s cross, before Mölders made the most of a Sommer clanger to wrap up direct qualification for the Europa League after FC Schalke 04 - fifth at the start of play - suffered a 2-0 defeat to Hamburger SV. Gladbach, who wasted two glorious late chances through Max Kruse and Fabian Johnson, finish third - three points behind the Wolves.
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