It was two ups and two downs for Bundesliga clubs in the Europa League on Thursday night. Bayer Leverkusen and Hannover 96 won their matches, but the crisis at VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Moenchengladbach grew bigger as both teams lost.
Despite taking an early lead against Fenerbahce, Gladbach went down 4-2 at home to the Turkish team. In front of a sell-out crowd at Borussia-Park, many of the fans being Turkish, Lucien Favre's team put on yet another disappointing display and have now gone seven games without a win.
Gladbach, who face this year's Bundesliga surprise package Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday, now need to beat Marseille to maintain their hopes of making the knockout rounds
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen said: "This is not an easy situation for us, but we are must try to win points against Frankfurt." And skipper Filip Daems bemoaned: "Some of us don't have a lot of self-confidence right now, you could feel that on a couple of occasions. We must work hard and try to take Sunday's match against Frankfurt in our stride."
VfB Stuttgart's season also took another turn for the worse as they were beaten 2-0 away at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's FK Molde. In front of only 5,949 spectators at the Aker Stadium, second half goals by Jo Inge Berget (58) and Daniel Chima (88) extended the Stuttgart crisis, which was thought to have ended last weekend when the Swabonians beat Nurnberg.
"The team has to be more effective in front of the goal," Stuttgart director of football Fredi Bobic complained after the match. Coach Bruno Labbadia said: "We were not clinical enough, and the last pass was missing. We are disappointed, we had other plans for tonight."
Stuttgart midfielder Christian Gentner is already looking ahead to Sunday's match against Bayer Leverkusen: "We don't have a lot of time to mope as we await Leverkusen, and we have take on the battle again." Stuttgart have yet to score a goal at home, and have only picked up one point in three matches at their home ground.
Hannover 96 turned their match against Levante around with only ten men to beat the Spanish team 2-1 at the Niedersachsenstadion. Hannover were not only reduced to ten men but also conceded an early goal after Michel converted a penalty in the tenth minute.
A happy coach Mirko Slomka told a press conference: "If you are down to ten men for almost the entire game, you can be very pleased to come back after a red card and a penalty. That was remarkable. It was an overall great performance by the team. We now top the group, which was a nice achievement today."
Bayer Leverkusen also picked up three points, beating Norwegian side Rosenborg thanks to a 76th minute goal from Germany international Stefan Kiessling. Despite a poor first half, in which Leverkusen shot-stopper Bernd Leno three times saved from Rade Prica, Leverkusen improved after the break.
"It was decisive, we upped our performance in the second half," said Leverkusen coach Sascha Lewandowsk. "We were too passive, too slow, not determined enough during the first half. It was important to turn things around."