The last Bundesliga action of the year saw Borussia Mönchengladbach host SV Darmstadt in the two team’s fifth ever meeting in the league. The hosts were in seventh place going into the game and a victory would send them into fourth place. Darmstadt sat in thirteenth place ahead of this game, but a victory for them would see them leap into eleventh place.
The visitors started the game brightly and showed signs of getting an early goal. Tobias Kempe had two of the early chances, the first saw his freekick from just outside the area deflected off the wall and go just wide. The wingers second chance saw a cross from the right find Kempe at the back post but he failed to strike the ball cleanly from a tight angle.
The first big chance of the game came just after the twenty minute mark, Fabian Johnson burst forward down the left before cutting the ball back to the edge of the area for Raffael, the Brazilian fired his effort low and was only just off the mark.
The visitors strong start was rewarded
Darmstadt were remaining strong at the back and they were rewarded with a goal just before the half hour mark. A long throw was flicked on by the head of Sandro Wagner and Marcel Heller got the better of Julian Korb to fire past Yann Sommer.
The game quietened as both teams struggled to create the chances and both were defending well. Some excitement soon arrived as Gladbach’s quest for the top four got a whole lot tougher before the break. Die Fohlen captain Granit Xhaka kicked out at Peter Niemeyer off the ball after the Darmstadt man accidental tripped him, the referee didn’t see the incident but his linesmen did.
Just before the break the hosts were level, Oscar Wendt charged forward down the left and his cross struck Luca Caldirola before rolling perfectly to Lars Stindl on the edge of the area, the midfielder then excellently curled his effort round the defenders and past Christian Mathenia.
Gladbach spirits were high as they came out for the second half and they didn’t waste any time in taking the lead despite having a man less. A freekick from just outside the area saw Håvard Nordtveit curl the ball over the wall and out of Mathenia’s reach. Questions will be asked of Heller who ducked away from the freekick.
Darmstadt managed to create two great chances just after the hour mark, a freekick into the area struck a defender and bounced up perfectly for Wagner to head in from a few yards out. Unfortunately for the away side Wagner could only head straight into Sommer’s arms.
Moments after that glorious chance it was Heller’s chance to equalise, a cross picked him out at the back post and from a tight angle he could only put his volley straight at Sommer.
Die Lilien levelled the scoreline before suffering late on
Darmstadt finally scored the leveller minutes later, a corner was headed out to Heller and the winger whipped in a wonderful cross. This time Wagner made no mistakes and powerfully headed past Sommer.
Die Lilien almost took the lead soon after their leveller, Heller found space and after being played through he only had Sommer to beat. The keeper came out quickly to deny Heller before regaining possession for his team.
As the game entered the last ten minutes Darmstadt should’ve taken the lead, Fabian Holland crossed from the left and picked out a free Jan Rosenthal, despite the space the midfielder got his header wrong and headed well wide from a few yards out.
Darmstadt will be kicking themselves for missing all those chances as a few minutes from time Gladbach regained the lead. Wendt started off a lovely move from the home team and after moving inside a one-two with Stindl saw Wendt one-on-one with Mathenia and the Swedish wing back slotted the ball home.
Gladbach held on for all three points and moved up into fourth place to give their fans an early Christmas present. Darmstadt played their part in a highly entertaining game which was end-to-end, however that loss means they’ll be spending Christmas in thirteenth place.
The Bundesliga returns towards the end of January and Gladbach will play the role of hosts once again as they welcome Borussia Dortmund for the Borussia derby. As for Darmstadt they’ll look to strengthen for their fight for survival and they come back to a vital match against fellow relegation battlers in Hannover 96.