There were plenty of plastered on smiles in the stands at Borussia Park, but little for Borussia Monchengladbach’s players to celebrate as a Kai Havertz double helped Bayer Leverkusen to victory.
Played behind closed doors as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Monchengladbach had 13,000 cardboard cut-outs of supporters in place for their first home game back after the resumption of the Bundesliga.
Even some Leverkusen fans got in on the spirit, with some spending the 19 euros required to have representations of themselves set up in the away end.
And it was the pre-captured grins and celebrations from the small collection of Leverkusen supporters that proved most fitting, with Havertz continuing his superb form since German top-flight football returned.
Having netted twice in Leverkusen’s first game back – a 4-1 win at Werder Bremen last weekend – the Germany international slotted home from close range to give his side the lead on Saturday.
He doubled his tally later in the game from the penalty spot after VAR ruled that Karim Bellarabi had been fouled in the box.
This came just six minutes after the hosts had finally given their ‘cardboard army’ something to remain impassively immobile to when Marcus Thuram fired in an equaliser.
A Sven Bender header made sure of the points for Leverkusen with nine minutes left, giving them a win that sees them leapfrog Monchengladbach into third place in the table, eight points behind leaders Bayern Munich.
Leverkusen have now won nine of their last 11 matches, have their best points tally after 27 games since 2010-11 and, in Havertz, have a striker whose involvement in 12 Bundesliga goals in 2020 is matched only by Dortmund’s prolific Erling Braut Haaland.
In addition, Havertz has now equalled Klaus Fischer’s record of having scored 34 Bundesliga goals before his 21st birthday.
Fischer, who played for 1860 Munich, Schalke, Cologne and Bochum between 1968 and 1988 scored 268 Bundesliga goals in total.