Gladbach keep cruising with fifth win in five games
Borussia Mönchengladbach made it five wins from five in the Bundesliga under Andre Schubert as they came out 3-1 winners in a topsy-turvy Bundesliga meeting with Schalke.
The Foals have turned their season around since the change in coach. Lars Stindl opened the scoring before Andreas Christensen turned one into his own net to bring Schalke level. But Raffael was the match-winner, finishing a superb free kick, his fourth goal of the season before setting up Julian Korb late on. Johannes Geis was sent off for a disturbing challenge in the second half.
Schubert has sworn by consistency in his selections with his side coming off the back of a 0-0 draw at Juventus in midweek. Breitenreiter made five changes from the side which drew 2-2 at home to Sparta Prague on Thursday â Sascha Riether, Geis, Joel Matip, Dennis Aogo and Leroy Sane all returned to the starting XI.
Referee Wolfgang Stark stepped in to rule out Stindl’s first successful attempt on two minutes, the ball having gone out of play in the process. Six minutes later, Schalke goalie Ralf Fährmann reacted excellently to claw out Julian Korb’s right-foot shot from the edge of the box.
Fabian Johnson has been a constant at left-wing since Schubert’s appointment. The 27-year-old was controversially sent home by US head coach Jürgen Klinsmann after the 3-2 defeat to Mexico a fortnight ago ‘to rethink’ his approach to the team. But on his arrival, Borussia Mönchengladbach confirmed he was receiving treatment for an injury.
Johnson is a crucial player for the Gladbach boss, his speed, balance and work rate a useful tool as part of his four-man attack. The US international sits on the left-wing, sometimes prone to tucking inside to allow Swedish left back Oscar Wendt the room to overlap.
On 18 minutes, Johnson drifted a little wider and found room to threaten the Schalke defence. He sent in a wicked, pacey cross into the box, but Schalke defender Benedikt Höwedes – appearing in the Bundesliga for the 200th time — cleared the ball for a corner kick with Ibrahima Traore lingering unmarked.
The scoring started on the half hour mark with the referee at the center of the controversy. Right back Korb joined the attack and attempted a take-on against Aogo, but the Schalke left back was adjudged to have fouled the 23-year-old.
Former Hannover captain Stindl missed the kick, denied by Fährmann, but the Gladbach No. 10 chased the loose ball and stuck home the rebound. Korb, the creator, was one of several homegrown talents on show from two of Germany’s best football academies. From Mönchengladbach, there was Mahmoud Dahoud in midfield while Patrick Herrmann was being treated for injury.
On the opposite side, it was one of Schalke’s own prodigious talents who turned the game around. Max Meyer controlled the ball exquisitely while off-balance, striking it across the face of goal where Andreas Christensen, on loan from Chelsea, turned it past his own keeper.
Schalke continued the second half on the ascendancy, creating the best chances and looking dangerous on the counterattack. On 54 minutes, Yann Sommer made an impressive double save to keep out efforts from midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, on loan from champions Bayern Munich.
The Foals pressed more and forced turnovers in possession. On 59 minutes, Stindl’s header from six yards out was chested off the line by Schalke’s experienced full back Riether. His deputy, Junior Caicara, volleyed ambitiously over the crossbar on the hour mark.
But the Brazilian flanker was key in Schalke’s best chance of the half, overlapping on the right and crossing low for Franco Di Santo whose shinned finish was palmed out by Sommer on 65 minutes. The efforts of the Gladbach keeper were rewarded at the other end as the home side took the bull by the horns on 70 minutes. Raffael curled home an outstanding free kick from 25 yards to put Gladbach in front, netting his fourth goal in his last six matches.
Schalke were cut down to ten men after Geis’ horrible collision with Andre Hahn who left the field on a stretcher. Minutes later, Gladbach claimed a third of the afternoon, with Raffael spinning brilliantly away from his marker, setting up Korb who fired in from a tight angle.
Gladbach’s revival under Schubert has seen them move out of the drop zone and up to seventh with a win on Matchday 10. The Foals are three points off a Champions League position. Schalke stay third.