Borussia Mönchengladbach battled to a 1-0 away win over Wolfsberg AC on matchday 5 of the Europa League group stage. Lars Stindl scored the only goal of the game to send the Foals top of the group thanks to Roma’s win over Basaksehir.
Almost half of the 12,073 fans at the Merkur Arena in Graz were cheering the Foals on as they started the game the better side. However, the final pass was missing to create a concrete goalscoring opportunity. Wolfsberg looked more dangerous on the counterattack, helped by some sloppy passing at the back from Gladbach. It was ultimately the hosts came closest to taking the lead in the first half, but Niangbo’s effort was cleared off the line by Tobias Strobl.
There wasn’t much immediate change in the second 45 as Borussia continued to struggle in possession, but a rare chance to break in the 60th minute finally produced a decent attack for the visitors. Oscar Wendt was played in down the left flank and whipped in the perfect cross for Lars Stindl to control in the box, before coolly slotting the ball past the goalkeeper to make it 1-0. Gladbach suddenly began playing with a lot more confidence and Alassane Plea nearly doubled the advantage just six minutes later. Marcus Thuram beat his man on the left flank and looked for his follow Frenchman in the centre, but Plea was unable to steer his effort on target at full stretch. Wolfsberg were clearly tiring from their first-half pressing exploits, although they did come close from Leitgeb’s header following a free-kick that Yann Sommer expertly held on to. As time ran down, László Bénes came within inches of wrapping up the win, but Borussia held out to secure all three points, meaning that a draw against Basaksehir in the final group game will be enough to move on to the Europa League knockout stages.
Marco Rose made five changes to the side that were beaten by Union Berlin on the weekend. Tobias Strobl, Ramy Bensebaini, László Bénes, Jonas Hofmann and Alassane Plea all came in, with Florian Neuhaus and Patrick Herrmann dropping to the bench, Christoph Kramer missing out through suspension, and Matthias Ginter and Nico Elvedi unavailable with injury. The full starting XI was as follows: Sommer; Lainer, Strobl, Bensebaini, Wendt; Zakaria, Hofmann, Bénes; Thuram, Stindl, Plea.
Apart from Ginter (muscle problem) and Elvedi (stitches), the boss was also without Andreas Poulsen (ankle) and Torben Müsel (knee) due to injury.