SGL Arena, Augsburg - Borussia Monchengladbach's plans to finish the first half of the season on top of the Bundesliga table were derailed in the winter rain Saturday afternoon as they slipped up, losing 1-0 to a resurgent FC Augsburg.
Jan-Ingwer Callsen Bracker scored on a free-kick in the 51st minute that deflected off the wall and got past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The victory was the second consecutive win at home for Augsburg, and another clean sheet for youngster Mohamed Amsif.
"From the beginning to the end, the team showed pure passion, it was an unbelievable performance," exclaimed head coach Jos Luhukay. "I'm satisfied and proud of the entire team."
Luhukay's colleague on the other side was not pleased with his team's performance. "We were always a step too late and played too slow," admitted Foals' coach Lucien Favre. "They were aggressive and pressed us all match. We played terrible today."
From kickoff, both teams were intent on getting the early goal. Gladbach's Raul Bobadilla had a couple of early chances, including one in the opening seconds. Daniel Baier answered with a free kick for the home side, but the attempt was weakly taken.
For the rest of the half, the weather affected both teams, the offensive chances disappeared. However the physical play increased as the fouls mounted. But one thing was clear - Borussia were off their game.
ter Stegen almost gave up a goal when he misplayed a backpass, Tobias Werner was there to pounce on it, however ter Stegen was able to turn it away. At the half, possession was about even (52-48 for Borussia) and the shots as well (6-5 also for the visitors). But the number of offsides for Augsburg (9-1) displayed an aggressive attitude that Luhukay alluded to in the postmatch comments.
The physical play continued in the second half, and proved costly for Gladbach. Dante fouled striker Sascha Mölders right in front of the area, leading to Callsen-Bracker's attempt. His free-kick deflected off Bobadilla, changing directions and landed safely at the back of the net.
"It was a wet pitch and the ball can spin any which way and I took advantage," explained former Gladbacher Callsen-Bracker his strategy.
Minutes later, Mölders jumped into ter Stegen, earning a yellow, but bruising the goalkeeper's ribs. Augsburg could not take advantage of the physical advantage, however momentum was clearly on their side and their fans were sensing their role to will their team to victory.
"That was our goal today for the match, was to win in front of our great fans," added goal scorer Callsen-Bracker. "We got tremendous support from the fans today," added Luhukay.
Augsburg were solid defending their pitch last year during the promotion run. They were winless in their first six matches in the top league this year, but since their last home loss versus Bayern Munich 2-1 on November 6th, something changed.
"We started to believe (after the close match vs. Munich), and with our fans supporting us and know we can play better home," said Luhukay. "We are working hard and progressing in the right direction."
Gladbach took a step back, and were missing their star Marco Reus for the second match due to injury. And now have their work cut out for them. "We know that we have more work ahead of us if we want to win our matches after the break," said a wincing ter Stegen after the match. "We have to be ready to battle and have clear heads - we just didn't get it done."