Borussia Mönchengladbach finally got their first UEFA Europa League win of the season on matchday 4, beating AS Roma 2-1. Federico Fazio scored for both teams, before Marcus Thuram’s dramatic, last-second winner secured a huge three points for Gladbach.
The 44,570 produced an incredible atmosphere at BORUSSIA-PARK and were helping drive the Foals forward in the first 45 minutes. Half of the stadium were cheering too when Denis Zakaria’s long-range strike looked to have nestled in the back of the net, but his strike in fact just cleared the crossbar before deceptively trickling down the back of the goal. László Bénes also produced a fine effort from distance and it required a good save from Pau Lopez, before Florian Neuhaus was denied with a last-ditch block. Yann Sommer’s reflexes were also required at the other end to block a Pastore strike. It was a rare dangerous attack from the visitors, however, and Gladbach’s attacking pressure finally paid off in the 35th minute. The always dangerous Marcus Thuram got to the byline and delivered a tantalising ball across that Federico Fazio could only turn into his own goal.
Half time gave Roma a chance to reorganise and, with a lead in the bag, Borussia were now pressing with less intensity. The away side started to take more control of the game and chances were inevitable. Sommer did brilliantly to tip behind a curling shot from Pastore at full stretch, but he was helpless in the 64th minute to keep out Fazio’s point-blank finish from a Kolarov free kick. Both sides had invested so much into the game and, in the closing stages, it was clear that fatigue was starting to take its toll. Both coaches brought in fresh legs, with Marco Rose also handing Alassane Plea his comeback from injury. The Frenchman was to play a key role in the perhaps defining moment of this Europa League campaign too. With the game going from end to end, Denis Zakaria pumped one last ball into the Roma box in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time, and Plea leapt up at the back post to calmly head the ball back into the centre. There was – of course – Marcus Thuram, and the Foals’ man in-form planted a powerful header into the back of the net to lift the proverbial roof off BORUSSIA-PARK and catapult the Foals from bottom of the group to second place with two games to go.
Marco Rose made three changes to the side that won in Leverkusen on Saturday. Denis Zakaria, László Bénes and Lars Stindl returned to the team, with Christoph Kramer, Jonas Hofmann and Patrick Herrmann missing out. The full starting XI was as follows: Sommer; Jantschke, Ginter, Elvedi; Lainer, Bénes, Zakaria, Neuhaus, Wendt; Stindl, Thuram.
There was a reduced injury list for the Foals on Thursday, with ‘only’ Breel Embolo, Keanan Bennetts (both thigh), Tobias Sippel, Torben Müsel (both knee), Raffael, Fabian Johnson (both adductor), Mamadou Doucouré (precaution) and Julio Villalba (light training) unavailable, although Patrick Herrmann was also absent as his partner was due to give birth.