Matchday 29 in the Bundesliga saw Borussia Mönchengladbach finally get back to winning ways, with Raffael’s second-half strike enough to earn the Foals a 1-0 win at Hannover 96.
The game began in worrying circumstances for the Foals when Lars Stindl suffered a painful-looking injury to his shin after just 30 seconds and was immediately taken to hospital. Borussia maintained their focus though, and with Raffael now on the pitch, set about on their quest to take all three points back to Mönchengladbach. Florian Neuhaus had the first opportunity of the game after stealing the ball inside Hannover’s box, but his chip only had enough pace to beat the keeper before Kevin Wimmer cleared the ball off the line. Thorgan Hazard perhaps carried the biggest threat cutting in from the left and testing Esser twice, but the Hannover no.1 was in the way both times to keep the score goalless at the break.
Gladbach’s dominance continued in the second half and it was finally rewarded in the 53rd minute. The ball popped up kindly for Raffael after a blocked Neuhaus shot, but the Brazilian’s lobbed finish over Esser was anything but lucky. Hannover grew into the game a little more as they pushed for an equaliser and when they did create a rare dangerous moment, Yann Sommer was there to make a stunning save and deny Hendrik Weydandt. Raffael could have settled nerves late on when he picked up a rebound from Alassane Plea’s saved shot ten yards out, but he blazed over to ensure a tense ending. The Foals were able to see out the remaining minutes without incident though and secured a first win in four to strengthen their European challenge.
Dieter Hecking made just one change to the side that drew 1-1 with Werder Bremen, with Lars Stindl coming in for Raffael, although that switch lasted a mere three minutes following the captain’s early injury. The full starting XI was as follows: Sommer; Ginter, Strobl, Elvedi; Herrmann, Kramer, Zakaria, Neuhaus, Hazard; Stindl, Plea.
The coach was without Michael Lang (hip), Mamadou Doucouré (thigh) and Andreas Poulsen (ankle) due to injury, while Ibrahima Traoré is not yet match-ready after recovering from groin surgery.