VfL Wolfsburg began the second half of the season with a 1-0 win away to Bayer 04 Leverkusen, their second consecutive triumph in what was the club’s 800th Bundesliga outing. Ridle Baku scored the only goal of the game in the 35th minute, helping the Wolves climb to fourth in the table. The team’s next outing is on Sunday 31 January at home to SC Freiburg (kick-off 18:00 CET).
Starts for Mbabu and Gerhardt
Head coach Oliver Glasner made two changes to his line-up following the 2-0 win at 1. FSV Mainz 05, with Kevin Mbabu and Yannick Gerhardt beginning in place of Josip Brekalo and Maximilian Philipp.
Baku heads VfL in front
The Wolves struggled to get into the game initially and Leverkusen had some early chances, with Nadiem Amiri squandering two opportunities – one of which was cleared off the line by Maxence Lacroix in the fourth minute – before Lucas Alario hit the post (6’).
After a frenetic opening phase, the pace of the match slowed down and gradually Glasner’s side began to make their presence felt. They took the lead in the 35th minute when Renato Steffen floated a cross towards the back post, where Baku was well positioned to head home. VfL were subsequently very compact and kept Leverkusen at arm’s length until half-time, taking a narrow lead into the break thanks to their superior chance conversion.
Level with Leverkusen
The Wolves were in no mood to ease off in the second half, denying Leverkusen time and space on the ball while a resolute VfL rearguard defended superbly. Wout Weghorst had an opportunity to make it 2-0 on 68 minutes, but his attempted chip was blocked by Bayer goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.
Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz reacted by making a triple substitution, bringing on Karim Bellarabi, Kerem Demirbay and Julian Baumgartlinger, but the latter injured his knee after just five minutes on the pitch and had to be replaced by Wendell. In the closing stages the hosts had their first chance since the 32nd minute through Daley Sinkgraven, whose powerful shot was tipped over the bar by Koen Casteels (82’). Leverkusen threw everything forward as the final whistle approached but were unable to find a way through, allowing the Wolves to pick up their second straight win and pull level with Bosz’s side on 32 points.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Hradecky – Bender (46‘ Fosu-Mensah), Tah (74‘ Baumgartlinger / 81‘ Wendell), Tapsoba, Sinkgraven – Aranguiz (74‘ Demirbay), Wirtz, Amiri (74’ Bellarabi) – Diaby, Alario, Bailey
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Mbabu, Lacroix, Brooks, Otavio – Schlager (90’+4 Bialek), Arnold – Baku (83’ Guilavogui), Gerhardt, Steffen (61‘ Brekalo) – Weghorst
Goals: 0-1 Baku (35‘)
Yellow cards: Alario / Lacroix
Referee: Marco Fritz (Cologne)