Borussia Mönchengladbach went into Thursday’s game against Roma in desperate need of a win, having drawn two and lost one in the Europa League group stages. An early exit from the competition was becoming a real possibility, an odd prospect given the Foals’ electric start in the domestic Bundesliga season.
As if hoping to inspire the side with memories of past glory, the 1979 UEFA Cup-winning Foals were on hand in the stadium to cheer on the latest chargers in the white and green stables.
Thuram seals the deal, Fazio makes amends
Not for the first time this season, Marcus Thuram brought home the bacon for Gladbach. With just seconds of stoppage time remaining, Denis Zakaria crossed from the left and substitute Alassane Plea headed back across the box towards his French compatriot Thuram, who nodded in from close range.
“It was fanastic to score the decisive goal for Borussia in the last minute,” Thuram said after the match. “We tried to press for a win to the very last, never gave up and never stopped believing that we could do it. We’re delighted.”
The 22-year-old Thuram effectively created Gladbach’s opening goal as well. Even though none of his teammates were well placed to pounce on his low cross late in the first half, Roma’s Federico Fazio was sufficiently spooked that he tried clear the awkward ball, steering it into his own net.
Roma responded well though, taking control of the game in the second half and putting Gladbach under real pressure. Coach Marco Rose had spoken before the game about Roma’s organized back line, but it was attacking players like Edin Dzeko, Javier Pastore and Justin Kluivert causing real problems for the Bundesliga leaders. Goalie Yann Sommer was forced into an exceptional save to deny Pastore just before the hour mark.
The equalizer eventually fell from a set piece, with Fazio scoring his second of the game, in the same goal — but this time for his own team. Sommer got his gloves to the fierce volley but couldn’t stop it.
The win by no means guarantees safety for Gladbach, but it massively improves their prospects going into the last round of group games. The Foals have jumped from last to second in a very tight Group J, where all four teams could still reach the next round.
Belgium 2, Bundesliga 0 in Thursday’s other games
Late goals might be music to Gladbach’s ears, but Eintracht Frankfurt fans will see matters differently after their away game against Standard Liege, just across the border to Belgium. Frankfurt lost 2-1, courtesy of a last-minute goal scored on the counterattack by Liege, just seconds after Filip Kostic had missed a cast-iron chance to decide the game in his team’s favor.
And to the east in Wolfsburg, the Wolves went down 3-1 against visitors KAA Gent, meaning the Belgian side take the lead in Group I. Wolfsburg sit second but could still be challenged by either St Etienne or Ukrainian club FC Oleksandriya; both are just two points adrift of the Wolves with two group games still to play.
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