Mönchengladbach - Borussia Mönchengladbach booked their place in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 as Group A winners after defeating FC Zürich 3-0 at home on Thursday evening.

Patrick Herrmann opened the scoring in the first half before two excellent Branimir Hrgota goals - the second of which was particularly delightful - put the match beyond Zürich's reach.

Wingers to the fore


After an initial period of sparring, Gladbach settled into their stride and gradually began to overpower their guests. Zürich had no answer to the pace of Herrmann and Ibrahima Traore on the flanks, and their direct running allowed them to get in behind the Swiss side’s defence on several occasions. It was only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken, and it was Herrmann who did so, latching on to Hrgota’s deflected pass before rounding the keeper and slotting home.

Traore very nearly doubled the Foals’ lead minutes later after cutting in from the right and curling a left-footed shot on to the post. Gladbach had a couple more chances to extend their lead in the first half but the final ball went astray too often. There was very little to see from Zürich, who needed to win to avoid elimination from the tournament, but were unable to break their hosts’ grip on the tie.

Hrgota gets cheeky


Perhaps it was a stirring team-talk during the break from coach Lucien Favre that jolted his side into going up a gear, but whatever the cause, Gladbach re-emerged from the tunnel with greater intensity. A period of sustained pressure ended with Hrgota playing a one-two with Raffael on the edge of the area, before sprinting to the six-yard box and flicking the Brazilian’s cross into the net.

There was a certain Brazilian flair to Hrgota’s second of the evening too. The young Swede collected Granit Xhaka’s excellent defence-splitting pass, took a touch to set himself and then scooped the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper. It was not until the closing stages that Zürich pushed forward with any real purpose, but by then it was too late as Gladbach advanced to the last 32, knocking their visitors out of the competition in the process.

Line-ups:

Gladbach: Sommer - Jantschke, Brouwers, Dominguez, Wendt - Kramer, Xhaka - Traore (Johnson 79'), Herrmann (Hazard 67') - Hrgota, Raffael (Kruse 67')

Zürich: Da Costa - Koch, Kecojevic (C. Brunner 25'), Elvedi - Buff, Kukeli - Rodriguez (M. Brunner 69'), Chiumiento, Schönbächler - Etoundi (Chermiti 69'), Chikhaoui

Goals: 1-0 (Herrmann 31'), 2-0 (Hrgota 59'), 3-0 (Hrgota 54')