The 15:30 kick offs of Matchday 18 were not short of goals. With twenty goals scored across five games, the day was already a banquet of goalscoring. The evening kick off at the BayArena between Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach would be no different. A five goal thriller saw the away side come from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in a second half masterclass.
Since the 2012/13 season this match has produced three wins for Bayer, three draws and three wins for Gladbach. The Foals, however, had won their last two fixtures in the Bundesliga against die Werkself. You’d have to go back to 2004 for the last goalless fixture between these two in the league, and with leaky defensive records this season, it was no shock we were treated to a bundle of goals.
The atmosphere was at full blast, the Gladbach supporters had packed out the away section and were waving their flags. Meanwhile, the Leverkusen fans standing behind the goal were jumping up and down to a rhythmic drum beat which was accompanied by a rather catchy chant. It was classic Bundesliga! The controversy started before the match did. The Leverkusen Ultras letting off a variety of smoke bombs and flares throughout which a stern stadium announcer reminded them pyrotechnics are forbidden – I’m sure they were listening amongst all the bangs and smoke.
The ball finally got rolling after a short delay. Both sides had chances early on. Charles Aránguiz almost scored in the first minute when he was found completely free in the area after Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s corner. His powerful header flew straight at Yann Sommer though. This chance was to be symptomatic when it came to the goals Gladbach would concede. The visitors came close with Oscar Wendt but his well struck effort from outside the area whistled over the bar. It took 31 minutes for the deadlock to be broken. Jonathan Tah headed in from a corner which was quickly followed by a Chicharito header from a corner again, ending what was a long goal drought for the Mexican striker. Leverkusen went into half time 2-0 up and any sort of comeback from the away side seemed highly unlikely.
But that’s exactly what happened. No changes made but Gladbach came out in the second half determined to get themselves back into the game. Lars Stindl got the revival started in the 52nd minute with a goal of the top class. Holding off Tah in the Bayer defence and striking a wonderful effort that bypassed Bernd Leno and flew into the corner of the goal. Running back into his own half he encouraged the away fans to be hopeful and raised his arms. The away sector would see why he was offering them hope as six minutes later, he scored again. This time from a header six yards out. The Gladbach fans erupted whilst the Leverkusen fans seemed to sink further into their seats. Their misery was to be completed when, Raffael skipped past Tah before sliding the ball past a despairing, Leno. Bayer Leverkusen 2-3 Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Stindl talked about the second half
Dieter Hecking is a very experienced manager and has gone through these situations often. He clearly outlined what we had to improve but he also pointed out things that we had done well in the first half. We wanted to continue playing forward, use the space that we were given and show more determination in front of the goal. We also knew that the game could take a turn if we get one goal back. We’ve experienced that ourselves often enough. The way we started to play then strengthened our belief that we could still get something out of the game
So it’s Leverkusen’s despair that’s Gladbach’s joy. After a superb second half performance the result was deserved, and marked Dieter Hecking’s first win with the Foals. Certainly one of the most thrilling games I’ve attended this season, superb support as usual in the Bundesliga and an enthralling game to go with it.
Bayer 04: Leno – Henrichs (Jedvaj 66’), Tah, Toprak, Wendell – Aránguiz (Havertz 66’), Kampl – Bellarabi (Kießling 77’), Calhanoglu – Chicharito, Brandt
Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sommer – Jantschke, Christensen, Vestergaard, Wendt – Kramer, Dahoud – Hofmann (Drmic 89’), Hazard (Hahn 70’) – Stindl – Raffael (Johnson 85’)
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