Juventus hang on for draw to eliminate Gladbach
Borussia Mönchengladbach is out of the UEFA Champions League following a 1-1 draw with Juventus at Borussia-Park on Tuesday.
The Foals marked a momentous return to the European Cup after almost three decades away from the continent's premier competition. But despite a remarkable resurgence domestically, Andre Schubert was unable to turn the group around. Fabian Johnson opened the scoring for Gladbach on 18 minutes before Stephan Lichtsteiner equalized for the stubborn Italians on the stroke of half time.
Schubert and Gladbach were unbeaten in their last six matches in all competitions, having won six league games on the spin. But the man promoted from the U23 side to first-team refused to give an insight into his secrets.
"Am I a wizard like Harry Potter? There is no big scar on my forehead. We have no magic wand and no magic spells," he said. Schubert needed something miraculous as he was without Andre Hahn, Patrick Herrmann, Nico Schulz, Martin Stranzl and Tony Jantschke. Juventus, meanwhile, were without German international Sami Khedira.
The first 30 minutes from the Foals was breathtaking at times. At just 19, Mahmoud Dahoud is playing well beyond his years in the heart of midfield. Gutsy and confident, the Gladbach academy graduate slammed a shot against Gianluigi Buffon's crossbar from around 35 yards out.
This enthusiastic and go-lucky Gladbach side has replaced the tepid attitude under Lucien Favre, the former coach. On 18 minutes, Johnson kept his composure on the right-side of the box, tucking the ball into the opposite corner to become the sixth American player to score in the UEFA Champions League and put Gladbach in front.
Playing with a snarling, unfussy pressing game, the Germans dispossessed the likes of Paul Pogba and Patrice Evra for fun. When the ball was won again, Gladbach broke at speed, taking advantage of spaces left when full-backs and midfielders bomb forward.
On 22 minutes, Buffon reacted well to tip a shot from Raffael around the post and a minute later, right-back Havard Nordtveit shot into the stands. The visitors carved out their first real chance of the game two minutes later as Giorgio Chiellini headed past the post from a corner kick. In response, Granit Xhaka, the stand-in captain, went for the adventurous and shot over the target from distance.
But the Old Lady should have been level as early as 39 minutes. Gladbach goalie Yann Sommer was forced into an excellent, one-handed save at his bottom, right-hand post by former Manchester United captain Evra who showed his deceptively strong heading abilities at the back-post.
Four minutes later, Swiss right-back Lichtsteiner, who underwent heart surgery last month, latched on to a marvelous chipped ball from Paul Pogba and drilled superbly past Sommer to equalize. Last season's defeated Champions League finalists are 11th in the Italian top-flight, the respective losses of Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal hard for any side to handle.
As Juventus looked to take control of the match, Max Allegri was dealt a blow on 52 minutes when midfielder Hernanes was shown a straight red card for a dangerous lunge on Alejandro Dominguez. The dismissal saw Allegri lose one of his key midfielders, forcing a change of shape and more cautious full-backs.
However, Schubert's men weren't able to take advantage, the most creative of their opportunities coming from long-range strikes. Johnson looked for a second from distance on 62 minutes, while Dahoud and Xhaka caused concern as Buffon came under increasing pressure. But the veteran Italian keeper - who will celebrate 20 years since his first-team debut this month - pulled off a spectacular save to keep the visitors level.
On 76 minutes, with Juventus having just gone to a 5-3-1 formation, Gladbach broke them down. Raffael showed quick feet to deliver an exquisite cross on to the head of Lars Stindl, but the midfielder's downward header was diverted away from goal by Buffon.
US international Johnson was replaced by Thorgan Hazard with five minutes left; the Gladbach left-winger providing Jürgen Klinsmann with food-for-thought following the saga in the wake of the defeat to Mexico last month. Thorgan, brother of Chelsea's Eden, came close in the final few minutes, but his shot tipped past by Buffon.
The Italian champions Juventus stood firm and held on to an important point which keeps them in the hunt for the second qualification place from the group. With Gladbach on two points and Sevilla three, the Foals could still qualify for the UEFA Europa League and meet the Spaniards at home on matchday five.