Borussia Mönchengladbach put two past Olympique Marseille on their way to their first Europa League victory of the season. Bayer Leverkusen and Hannover also earned important victories in the evening's European action.
Borussia Mönchengladbach put on a convincing show Thursday in their 2-0 Group C win over Olympique Marseille. The victory marks an important victory for the club, who have struggled recently in the Bundesliga.
Gladbach took the lead in the 33rd minute, when Marseille's Charles Kabore handled the ball in the box. Captain Filip Daems stepped up to the spot, sending his shot straight down the center and into the back of the net.
The hosts suffered a setback when forward Luuk de Jong had to leave the game in the 65th minute with a knee injury. But it was his replacement, Peniel Mlapa, who provided the highlight of the night just two minutes later.
The German youth international picked the ball up outside the box and fired a powerful curving shot into the bottom right corner, giving his side a 2-0 lead.
Marseille, who last year were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich, tried to put pressure on Gladbach and draw one back, but the hosts held on.
Coach Lucien Favre will hope to use the win as a turning point for Gladbach this season. His club spent big money this summer in the hopes of building on last year's success, but a series of heavy defeats, including a 4-0 loss to Werder Bremen Saturday, have left the club in 13th place in the Bundesliga table.
Gladbach will hope to carry their momentum into Sunday's league fixture against Hannover, who sit in 8th place.
Leverkusen triumph in Vienna
Bayer Leverkusen dominated for 90 minutes Thursday in their Group K matchup against Rapid Vienna, cruising to a 4-0 victory in the Austrian capital.
The visitors put pressure on from the start, often forcing Rapid to play large spells of the game in their own half. Leverkusen's finishing failed them for most of the period, however, and it took until almost halftime for them to put a ball past keeper Lukas Königshofer.
Defender Paul Wollscheid opened the scoring in the 37th minute when he redirected Gonzalo Castro's corner into the back of the net with a powerful header, giving the visitors a slim lead heading into the break.
The introduction of former Borussia Dortmund striker Terrence Boyd at the resumption of play did little to spark a subdued Rapid side. Less than 15 minutes into the second half, the game was all but decided, with goals from Castro and Karim Bellabri in the 56th and 58th minutes making it 3-0.
Despite a commanding lead, the visitors continued to press. A 92nd minute goal gave Castro his brace, and he sent his side home with a resounding victory.
Leverkusen now sit atop their group with seven points. They face a tough task away to Bayern Munich Sunday when they resume Bundesliga play.
Hannover leave it late
Two stoppage time goals made for a dramatic finish to Hannover's 2-1 victory over Helsingborg in Sweden.
Hannover braved the cold and rough weather to take an early 1-0 when Mame Biram Diouf got on the end of a Szabolcs Huszti cross, sending a header into the bottom right corner.
The visitors maintained their narrow lead for most of the game despite Helsingborg's throwing all their men forward as time wound down. But Hannover's hopes of escaping with a victory seemed dashed when substitute Alvaro Santos drew the hosts level in the 91st minute.
The drama continued just moments later, when Hannover unexpectedly fired back just 30 seconds before the final whistle. Artur Sobiech managed to send a ball across goal in the 92nd minute that met Didier Ya Konan, whose emphatic finish into the top left corner gave the visitors an unexpected 2-1 victory.
Hannover now lead Group L with seven points. They face an in-form Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga Sunday in their next match.
Scoreless in Stuttgart
It was a disappointing night for Stuttgart, who drew 0-0 with Danish side FC Copenhagen. The result assures that the German club will stay at the bottom of Group E with just two points.
After an uneventful first half, coach Bruno Labbadia hoped to inject some spark into his side with the introductions of Tunay Torun and Shinji Okazaki, but the pair failed the change the result.
Despite controlling the majority of possession and creating 13 shots to Copenhagen's 6, the hosts were unable to break the deadlock.
The result is a small bump in the road for an in-form Stuttgart, who have won two of their last three league matches after starting the season with four losses and a draw. They host second-place Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.