Leverkusen went into the game having taken just one point on the road all season, and their defensive fragility was exposed just seven minutes in when Fabian Johnson converted Thorgan Hazard’s fine cross. Ten minutes later, the USA international almost turned provider for Hazard, but Bernd Leno made a sensational point-blank save.
With Mickael Cuisance and Denis Zakaria dominating the midfield exchanges, Leverkusen struggled to involve their forward players in the game. Their best openings in the early stages came from set-pieces, with Kai Havertz heading over after Leon Bailey had skewed a volley into the side-netting. Clear-cut chances continued to arrive for Gladbach, meanwhile, Oscar Wendt going close and Raffael narrowly failing to connect with Nico Elvedi’s teasing cross.
The interval came at the right time for the visitors, in more ways than one. After re-grouping, they started the second period brightly and were level when Sven Bender bundled in from Wendell’s corner. Suddenly Bayer’s tails were up. Bailey beat Wendt one-on-one to curl a sweet strike into the corner, before substitute Julian Brandt sped clear to drill through Yann Sommer’s legs and put Leverkusen 3-1 up.
It was a remarkable turnaround, but it wasn’t quite finished, as Wendell released Volland, who fired in Bayer’s fourth goal in 19 crazy second-half minutes. The hosts and their fans were simply shell-shocked, and many had long since headed for the exits by the time Joel Pohjanpalo came off the bench to net Bayer’s fifth. At full time, Heiko Herrlich’s men reflected on an almost unbelievable first away win of the campaign, while Gladbach were probably still scratching their heads at collapsing so dramatically.
Watch: Leverkusen's Leon Bailey hails impact of half-time changes
Man of the Match
A host of Leverkusen players could lay claim to the award, but for three assists and mixing tough tackling with delightful use of the ball, Havertz gets the nod.
Gladbach: Sommer – Elvedi, Ginter, Vestergaard, Wendt – Zakaria, Cuisance (Hoffmann 65') – Hazard, Johnson (Traore 65') – Stindl (c) (Herrmann 84'), Raffael
Coach: Dieter Hecking
Leverkusen: Leno (c) – Retsos, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – L. Bender, Baumgartlinger – Bailey (Bellarabi 84'), Havertz, Volland (Pohjanpalo 79') - Alario (Brandt 46')
Coach: Heiko Herrlich
- Borussia conceded five times in one half of a Bundesliga game for the first time since March 1978.
- Volland's goal was his first away from home this season.
- All of Pohjanpalo's seven Bundesliga goals have come as a substitute.
- This fixture has not produced a goalless draw since 2004.
- Gladbach have scored in 16 of their last 17 Bundesliga games, while Bayer have found the net in their last 14.
- Johnson scored his first Bundesliga goal since March, while Sven Bender's strike was his first in the top-flight since January 2014.