South American skills were on full show as Borussia Moenchengladbach drew 2-2 with VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday to jump into third place in the Bundesliga at the start of the mid-season break.
It was a fitting end to the year for Moenchengladbach, who have won over plenty of fans this season with their exciting attacking game.
Wolfsburg took the lead as Diego, whose future at the club has been in doubt for some time, breaking the deadlock early in the second.
The mercurial Brazilian, exiled to the wings this season from his favored midfield role because of talented youngster Maximilian Arnold, waited at the far post to drill in after 53 minutes.
However, die Fohlen bounced straight back, with fellow Brazilian Raffael rifling in from 14m for his ninth goal of the campaign after a fine solo effort.
Venezuelan Juan Arango, who has arguably the smoothest left-footed shot in the league, floated in an unstoppable free-kick into the top corner from 27m to put Moenchengladbach ahead in the 64th.
Substitute Bas Dost rescued a point for Wolfsburg five minutes from time after goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had initially denied Brazilian Gustavo from close range.
The result was enough to lift Moenchengladbach to third in the Bundesliga on 33 points, one ahead of Borussia Dortmund, who drop to fourth on 32 after their 2-1 home defeat to Hertha BSC on Saturday.
Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted that last season’s Champions League’s finalists have fallen on hard times after slumping to their third consecutive home defeat in the Bundesliga — the first time that has happened in 13 years.
“One must always be grateful and humble in life, these great lads have already written some great stories this year — today it was different,” Klopp said as the Bundesliga breaks for winter. “This is a shitty end to 2013.”
With the Bundesliga now on a winter break, Dortmund finish the year 12 points behind league leaders Bayern Munich, who have a game in hand.
Borussia’s current form is a far cry from their eye-catching soccer last season, which carried them through to May’s Champions League final, where they lost 2-1 to Bayern.
Dortmund have suffered five defeats in the first half of the season, the most in the same period since Klopp took charge five years ago.
Having lost at home to Bayern, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Hertha, Dortmund are already effectively out of the title race.
A catalogue of injuries has blighted Klopp recently, especially to his first-choice centerback pairing of Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic, who is out until May.
Klopp said he was looking forward to the break, which should see the return of Hummels and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, as Borussia prepare for the start of their training camp on Jan. 5.
“Then we can start from scratch,” the Dortmund boss said.