DAVID SMITH - Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Fabian Johnson helped Borussia Mönchengladbach close out a convincing road win over Young Boys Bern to give the team a clear upper hand in their path to the Champions League group stage.
Johnson entered the game as an 81st minute substitute, as the team shut down their Swiss opponents over the final minutes to hold onto their 3-1 advantage.
Already coming into the two-legged tie as heavy favorites, the Germans were quick to assert their dominance, with Raffael chesting down a cross from Thorgan Hazard and taking a step to create space before burying his 18-yard shot for the lead.
Surprisingly, the goal seemed to awaken the hosts, and they consistently threatened to pull even before finally succeeding 11 minutes after the break when Yoric Ravet picked out Miralem Sulejmani at short range for an easy finish.
With Bern continuing to threaten in the subsequent minutes and raising fears of an upset, a tactical change in the 66th minute by Foals head coach Andre Schubert paid immediate dividends.
Just moments after Andre Hahn into the game for Hazard, he was on the receiving end of a fine piece of set-up work by Lars Stindl, and cleanly put his shot past keeper Yvon Mvogo to restore the lead.
Two minutes later, the hosts were kind enough to add a cherry on top of the win for their visitors, with central defender Alain Rochat deflecting a volleyed attempt by Raffael into his team's own net for the final 3-1 scoreline.
The margin of victory and three away goals make the Foals' advancement to the group stage a near certainty, as Bern will need to make a stunning turnaround in next Wednesday's return leg in Borussia Park.
In the meantime, Johnson and his teammates will have a chance to further sharpen their claws when they face Regionalliga club SV Drochtersen/Assel in the first round of the German Cup on Saturday.