Gladbach in command of European destiny; Augsburg silence Bayern

BY Ross Dunbar • May 9, 2015

Borussia Monchengladbach is en route to an automatic Champions League spot after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in a third-vs-fourth showdown.

Max Kruse, Patrick Herrmann and Ibrahima Traore completed the job to hand Leverkusen their first league defeat in 10 matches.

The Foals move into second -- temporarily until Wolfsburg play on Sunday afternoon -- and open up five-point lead over fourth-placed Leverkusen, which should see them qualify for Europe's top competition automatically next season.

The story of a captivating exhibition of modern football, with counter-attacks and quick transitional play galore, was actually dominated by two of the best keepers in the division. Bernd Leno thwarted the Gladbach attack in the 20th and 30th minute with a superb save from Kruse, followed up by a great double save from Patrick Herrmann.

Omer Toprak had the ball in the net on 34 minutes, but was adjudged to be offside. A few minutes later, Yann Sommer produced a great save of his own to prevent Son Heung-Min from volleying home.

But the home side's fantastic ability to spring counte-rattacks on a suspecting opponent was evident in the second period -- Herrmann racing down the right, crossing for Kruse whose finish sent the home fans into raptures. Kruse looks set to join Wolfsburg in the summer, but you wouldn't have recognized that as he played his part in a late destruction of Roger Schmidt's side.

Herrmann scored the second from close range on 80 minutes before Traore's individual moment of class added a third to send Gladbach on course for their first appearance in the Champions League group stages.

Champions Bayern Munich went down 1-0 at home FC Augsburg as the Bavarians edge closer to securing a place in Europe next season courtesy of Raul Bobadilla's second-half goal.

Buenos Aires-born Bobadilla set the tone early on, as he went through on goal before being sent down by Pepe Reina on 13 minutes, leading to a red card for the former Liverpool keeper. Manuel Neuer's day off was cut short and he guessed right as Paul Verhaegh missed from the penalty spot for the first time -- the Augsburg captain has converted seven kicks in his Bundesliga career.

Bayern's naïve defending was concerning for Josep Guardiola throughout the half as Augsburg looked to throw a spanner in the works for the second year in a row -- the Bavarians ended a 54-game unbeaten run at the tail end of last season.

But Europe, not beating Bayern, is the target for Markus Weinzierl's side and they were left cursing their profligacy in front of goal. Halil Altintop mis-kicked his close range opportunity on 35 minutes, just before Bobadilla chose to shoot rather than pass when driving into the box.

Thomas Muller's shot was saved on the halftime amid a late onslaught. Robert Lewandowski's deft chip before the whistle struck the woodwork. Yet ten-man Bayern were second best on the day, the malaise from the midweek defeat in the UEFA Champions League to Barcelona filling the air.

Augsburg had the ball in the net on the hour mark, which was ruled out for offside, but Bobadilla's creative back-heel bagged the points for Weinzierl's men who have a three-point cushion in fifth. A dispirited Bayern Munich looks to resurrect their season when Barca come calling on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund is making a late dash for a spot in next season's UEFA Europa League with a 2-0 win over Hertha Berlin ending a barren run against the Old Lady.

There was no evidence that Dortmund had lost their last two home games to the Berliners and went down 1-0 in the capital in autumn. Goals from Neven Subotic and Erik Durm increase the pressure on arch-rivals Schalke who play on Sunday.

Mats Hummels' dangerous header was a warning on seven minutes before his defensive partner Subotic completed the task two minutes later, powering home Henrikh Mkhitaryan's set-piece. Jurgen Klopp's farewell tour gathers pace ahead of the German Cup final in May against Wolfsburg with Durm adding the second on 46 minutes, bending in a sweet strike from the corner of the box.

Eintracht Frankfurt ended a recent goal drought with a 3-1 win over Hoffenheim courtesy of strikes from Haris Seferovic, Bastian Oczipka and Timothy Chandler before half-time. Kevin Volland's free-kick after the interval proved to be just a consolation for the visitors who are resigned to missing out on European qualification.

At the bottom, Zlatko Junuzovic's wonderful free-kick prevented Hannover from ending a 15-game losing streak. Michael Frontzeck is still without a win since taking charge and despite Lars Stindl's opener, the Austrian midfielder earned a deserved point for Bremen with a late set-piece strike.

Hannover moves into 16th place on 31 points with Paderborn dropping into the two automatic relegation positions before their clash with Wolfsburg on Sunday.

A 2-0 win for Stuttgart in the late match has thrown the door wide open at the bottom of the table with five teams separated by two points. Daniel Didavi and Filip Kostic struck for the Swabians who keep pace with the sides above them ahead of clashes with Hamburg and Paderborn to conclude the season.


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