First Team

2-1 defeat in Hannover

VfL Wolfsburg were beaten 2-1 by Lower Saxony rivals Hannover 96 in Friday’s Matchday 11 opener at the HDI Arena.

Goalscoring opportunities were few and far between until Yunus Malli’s close-range effort was disallowed by VAR. Hannover improved thereafter and took the lead courtesy of Linton Maina’s neat finish past Koen Casteels, before Ihlas Bebou doubled the hosts’ advantage from the penalty spot. Wout Weghorst’s spot-kick gave VfL hope, but Bruno Labbadia’s side were unable to fashion a late equaliser as they slipped to their fifth league defeat of the season.

Malli returns

Labbadia made just one change to the VfL team that suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to league leaders Borussia Dortmund last weekend. Malli was handed his first start since the 2-0 reverse at SV Werder Bremen on Matchday 7, with Josip Brekalo dropping to the bench.

Malli denied by VAR

There was little to choose between the two local rivals in the opening stages at the HDI Arena. Hannover enjoyed the majority of possession early on, but it was the Wolves who created the better chances, with Daniel Ginczek firing Malli’s cross high over the crossbar with 13 minutes on the clock. The Turkey international thought he had given VfL a deserved lead when he found the bottom corner soon afterwards, but the goal was chalked off by VAR after Yannick Gerhardt had handled the ball in the build-up.

That served as a wake-up call for the hosts, who broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark. Bebou collected a loose ball deep inside the Wolves’ half before squaring to Maina, who beat Casteels with a left-footed volley into the far corner. Bebou squandered a golden opportunity to double Hannover’s lead, before Ginczek sent a fizzing drive just wide of the target shortly before the interval.

Weghorst goal not enough

Labbadia shuffled his pack at the break, replacing Elvis Rexhbecaj and the injured Ginczek with Brekalo and 18-year-old winger John Yeboah. The changes appeared to have the desired effect as the Wolves started to apply pressure on the home defence, but it was Hannover who scored again after William felled Marvin Bakalorz inside the Green-Whites’ penalty area, allowing Bebou to convert the ensuing spot-kick. Weghorst pulled a goal back with a penalty of his own following Miiko Albornoz’s foul on Gerhardt, but Hannover held on to claim regional bragging rights.

Hannover 96: Esser - Korb, Anton, Elez, Ostrzolek - Bakalorz, Walace - Maina (Weydandt 74’), Sarenren Bazee (Albornoz 69’) - Bebou, Wood (Haraguchi 87’)

VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels - William, Tisserand, Brooks, Roussillon - Arnold - Gerhardt, Rexhbecaj (Yeboah 46’) - Malli - Ginczek (Brekalo 46’), Weghorst

Goals: Maina (31’), Bebou (pen. 62’), Weghorst (pen. 82’)

Yellow cards: William (63’) Brooks (90+3’) / Ostrzolek (65’), Walace (74’), Anton (88’)

Attendance: 35,800

Referee: Marco Fritz (Korb)



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