The home side started impressively with their midfield dictating play and pushing Villarreal deep, but they were missing the cutting edge required to make the difference before the break. However, with Lucien Favre's men failing to control proceedings in the same manner after the interval, Patrick Herrmann's strike was only enough to earn them a 1-1 draw against their Spanish opponents.
'Should've led 3-0'
Max Kruse made a fair point in admitting that with his side failing to hit the heights of last weekend's 4-1 win against FC Schalke 04, “sometimes one has to be satisfied settling for a draw, after all Villarreal are one of the strongest sides in this competition”. His was a view not shared by everyone in the Mönchengladbach camp though.
Granit Xhaka seemed particularly discontented with the result, expressing that the Bundesliga side let the grip they established on the encounter before the interval slip away far too easily. “I'm not happy at all, we should've won,” complained the Swiss midfielder. “We should've led Villarreal 3-0 at half-time, then it's game over. But we stopped playing after the break and made far too many simple mistakes.”
With Lucien Favre ringing in the changes in Borussia's frontline on the two-time UEFA Cup winners' return to the international stage, both Herrmann and Branimir Hrgota were given their first starts of the season. The pair are facing tougher competition for a berth in the Foals' first XI since the summer arrivals of Andre Hahn (FC Augsburg) and Ibrahima Traore (VfB Stuttgart), with the former demonstrating the pace and attacking threat against Villarreal that has already won him hearts at Borussia Park.
Herrmann though, proved a constant threat on the right wing, repeatedly troubling his Villarreal counterpart in the first half as well as netting Mönchengladbach's lead with a fine left-footed effort from the edge of the box after 21 minutes. “For me personally, everything went to plan,” the 23-year-old admitted. “First start, first goal - it couldn't have gone any better.”
Rhineland derby awaiting
However, with a history-ladden derby against promoted 1. FC Köln up next or Mönchengladbach, the former Germany Under-21 international knew he had no time to rest on his laurels and instead cast his attention to the upcoming encounter with the Foals' Rhineland rivals. “It's the best game of the year, there's nothing like it,” claimed Herrmann, who himself enjoyed his Bundesliga debut in the same fixture four years ago. Following his eye-catching display on Thursday night, he may well be hoping for yet another start at the RheinEnergieStadion.
Felix Seaman-Höschele reporting from Borussia Park