Mönchengladbach shore up their hold on fourth place after an easy 3-0 win against Cologne. Coach Frank Schäfer, who took over the Billy Goats a few days ago, has a lot of work to do if they are to stay up.
The match began predictably with Cologne sitting deep, and Gladbach, who prefer to counterattack, struggling to break down their opponents.
That strategy worked for 19 minutes. An unnecessary foul on Marco Reus gave the Foals a free kick just outside the penalty area, and playmaker Juan Arango deftly chipped the ball over the wall and into the net.
Mike Hanke should have doubled Gladbach's advantage twenty minutes later, after a fore-checking Reus found the striker along in front of goal. But Hanke couldn't find a way around Cologne keeper Michael Rensing.
Whatever Frank Schäfer, on his second stint coaching Cologne, said at halftime, it didn't work. Christian Clemens tested Gladbach keeper Marc-André ter Stegen just after the restart, but then the Foals were off and running.
In minute 53, Reus found Tony Jantschke, who headed in Gladbach's second. And 120 seconds later, Reus dribbled his way through Cologne's defense to cinch the win.
The result takes Gladbach seven points clear of fifth-place Stuttgart in the battle for the Champions League qualification spot. And the Foal are only one point behind Schalke in third for the final guaranteed spot in club football's premier competition.
Cologne stay in sixteenth but are now only one point ahead of Hertha Berlin in the fight to get into the relegation playoff with the third-best team from division two.
In Sunday's late match, Freiburg and Hoffenheim played to a goalless draw. Freiburg still need a point or two to avoid relegation, while Hoffenheim are in ninth with an outside chance of qualifying for the Europa League.
Author: Jefferson Chase
Editor: Timothy Jones