USA international Fabian Johnson got Borussia Mönchengladbach's Bundesliga campaign off to the perfect start with a derby win over Bayer Leverkusen on the opening weekend.
Gladbach 2-0 Leverkusen
Goals: 1-0 Hofmann (pen, 55'), 2-0 Johnson (58')
Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl had praised the Leverkusen squad ahead of this game, claiming they had Champions League quality, and Die Werkself appeared much the better side throughout the first half. The visitors easily could have been two goals ahead inside half an hour after Leon Bailey struck the bar with a header at the far post and Kevin Volland had an effort cleared off the line by debutant Jordan Beyer. Borussia, though, had a golden chance to take a lead into half-time when Benjamin Henrichs was penalised for hand ball inside his own box, but Thorgan Hazard's penalty was superbly saved by Ramazan Özcan, only in because of the injury to summer signing Lukas Hradecky.
Gladbach came out with much greater intent following the break and were quickly rewarded with another spot-kick after Aleksandar Dragovic tripped Florian Neuhaus, another of Borussia's Bundesliga debutants, inside the area. This time Jonas Hofmann stepped up and made no mistake, putting the ball into the other corner. The lead was doubled only three minutes later when Johnson and Raffael combined superbly inside the box with three quick-fire passes before the USA international tapped home. The Brazilian came close to adding a third for the home side, but he was denied from a narrow angle by a finger-tip save from Özcan. Despite all of Leverkusen's attacking talent on the pitch, they failed to really test Yann Sommer in the second half until a late Lucas Alario header, but it was Borussia who remained the greater threat on the counter until the end.
- Johnson's last Bundesliga goal also came against Leverkusen on Matchday 9 of last season. He has more against Die Werkself (three) than against any other team. Özcan has saved penalties in his last two Bundesliga outings (previously vs. Marco Reus in Dortmund on Matchday 31 last season). Hofmann's penalty ended a run of 52 Bundesliga games without a goal. An incredible 82 goals have been scored in the last 21 Bundesliga meetings between these sides, making for an average of almost four per match. Leverkusen have now only failed to score in three of their last 39 matches against Gladbach.Gladbach hosted Leverkusen on the opening day two years ago, and won 2-1 thanks to Lars Stindl’s late winner.
Gladbach: Sommer (c) - Beyer, Ginter, Jantschke, Wendt - Johnson (Herrmann 83'), Neuhaus (Zakaria 88'), Strobl, Hofmann - Raffael (Plea 79'), Hazard
Unused subs: Sippel, Kramer, Cuisance, Poulsen
Absentees: Elvedi (appendicitis), Benes (hamstring), Stindl (ankle), Lang (knee), Villalba (torn muscle)
Coach: Dieter Hecking
Leverkusen: Özcan - Henrichs (Kiese Thelin 64'), Tah, Dragovic, Wendell - Bailey (Weiser 77'), Kohr, Havertz, Brandt - Volland (c) (Bellarabi 77'), Alario
Unused subs: Kucz, Paulinho, Jedvaj, Aranguiz
Absentees: Baumgartlinger (knee), Pohjanpalo (ankle), Retsos (thigh), Hradecky (jaw), S. Bender (ankle), L. Bender (knee)
Coach: Heiko Herrlich
Watch: Leon Bailey reveals why he extended his contract with Leverkusen