It had been been a long time coming but, in 21-year-old Mlapa, Gladbach coach Lucien Favre may have uncovered a ready-made replacement for the departed Marco Reus, as well as the answer to his side's goal-scoring prayers. "I don't want to be known as the match-winner", Mlapa said modestly after the game. "It was an important goal, but nothing more."
"On the right track"
Important indeed: for the team and Mlapa. Recuperating following a lengthy spell on the sidelines, the former 1899 Hoffenheim striker could only watch on as his side were torn apart against Werder Bremen on Matchday 8, shipping four goals without reply and falling to a lowly 13th in the table.
"We simply had a bad day in Bremen, but it wasn't all bad [...] We're on the right track", he said. That certainly seemed to be true of the Foals' performance against Marseille, with Mlapa delivering a long-awaited debut strike in some style, seizing possession in the opposition half to send an unstoppable effort flying into the corner from 25 yards.
Gladbach travel to Hannover 96 on Sunday to face a team unbeaten at home since April 2011 and, in Mlapa and Patrick Herrmann, with the makings of an intriguing partnership, on display for the first time towards the end of the win over Marseille. "We showed people how flexible we are. The link-up play went well", said Gladbach scorer Mlapa.
"When I came to Mönchengladbach, I wanted to show people that is was the right move. Then I got injured, lost patience and so didn't train as I'd have liked", admitted the Togo-born striker. "After three or four weeks I'm back.“ he added, having endured a frustrating start to his fledgling Foals career. "I didn’t move to Gladbach to be the joker. My goal is the first eleven", he warned.
Tobias Gonscherowski and Christopher Mayer-Lodge