Borussia Mönchengladbach look to have left their away woes behind them after they cruised to a 2-0 win over Stuttgart. Raffael and Ozcar Wendt scored against an underwhelming home side at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena.
Mönchengladbach finally broke through for their away win of the season on November 2 against Hamburg, and faced another test against Stuttgart on Friday.
It was one they comfortably passed. Off-color and off the pace, Stuttgart were a clearly inferior comparison to Mönchengladbach, despite knowing a victory would hand them a chance to claim some significant ground on the Bundesliga table.
Instead, it was Mönchengladbach who took the initiative, strengthening their hold on fourth with a fourth consecutive league win. For Stuttgart, it proved a setback in their attempts to draw away from mid-table mediocrity.
The hosts could have taken the lead in Friday's match, though. After an arm-wrestle of an opening half-hour, Stuttgart tyro Timo Werner raced on to Alexandru Maxim's precise through ball, opening up a one-on-one chance against Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The Mönchengladbach goalkeeper got a crucial touch, however, forcing Werner wide and allowing his defense time to recover. Werner could have returned the favor to Maxim soon after, but elected to go alone on the left and was again thwarted by a solid ter Stegen.
But as Stuttgart probed, Mönchengladbach pressed. It paid off for the visitors.
Under that pressure, Stuttgart had often been sloppy with possession in the first half and it was perhaps no surprise it played a part in Mönchengladbach taking the lead in the 37th minute.
Right-back Daniel Schwaab's nonchalant hooked clearance fell straight into the visitors' hands, with Raffael dashing forward after receiving possession from Granit Xhaka.
Raffael laid off to Patrick Herrmann before continuing his run, and then got on the end of a superb return pass to waltz by Stuttgart goalkeeper Sven Ulreich and finish.
Wendt sparks second half
The goal should have sparked an at-times lackluster game to life, but it was mostly more of the same when play re-started after the break. Instead, it took a second goal to add a little polish to the encounter.
It came in some style in the 73rd minute. Once again, Herrmann was involved, crossing from the left. Ozcar Wendt still had plenty to do to threaten Ulreich, but he balanced the ball beautifully before lashing home a powerful volley.
Mönchengladbach could not add a third despite numerous ensuing chances, with Herrmann, Max Kruse and Raffael finding freedom but not another way past Ulreich. Stuttgart's efforts became more and more forlorn, with Werner one of the few keeping Mönchengladbach on their toes.
That so much was left to the forward, still 17, would have disappointed Stuttgart head coach Thomas Schneider. Mönchengladbach counterpart Lucien Favre, meanwhile, can rest easy that his side's travails on their travels seems to be a thing of the past.