Maximilian Arnold’s eye-catching volley helped VfL to secure a solid win on the opening day of the Bundesliga season against a battling Köln outfit, and to stretch their unbeaten home run to eight games in the process.
Oliver Glasner made just one change to the team that defeated Hallescher FC 5-3 in the DFB Cup, bringing in new signing Xaver Schlager for Yannick Gerhardt, who dropped to the bench. Also named as substitutes were two other summer recruits, Kevin Mbabu and Lukas Nmecha.
There were few clear-cut chances in the opening quarter of an hour, as both teams appeared content to feel each other out. VfL drew first blood in the 16th minute when Maximilian Arnold, lurking outside the box, set himself and struck a powerful, swerving left-foot volley impressively past Timo Horn in the Köln goal.
The second division champions initially responded strongly, with Anthony Modeste shooting just wide, but the Wolves regained control and, as half-time approached, Joao Victor came close to putting the home side further ahead.
Weghorst cements lead
The Green-Whites attempted to turn the screw at the start of the second period, forcing Horn into saves via viable efforts from Felix Klaus and Jerome Roussillon. They increased their advantage soon after, when Schlager won the ball in midfield in the 61st minute, drove forward and slipped in an inviting pass for Wout Weghorst, who showed great composure to slot the ball into the net.
The Billy Goats tried to bounce back, but any half-chances they were able to create were quickly snuffed out by John Brooks and his fellow defenders, who performed proficiently throughout. The visitors did finally make a breakthrough in injury time, however, when Simon Terrode bundled the ball home from close range, but it was a case of too little, too late, and the Wolves saw out the remaining couple of minutes to claim a deserved opening-day victory.
1. FC Köln: Horn – Ehizibue, Jorge Mere, Czichos, Hector (c) – Höger (Skhiri 56’) Verstraete, Schindler, Kainz (Churlinov 70’), Drexler (Terodde 62’) – Modeste
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Knoche, Guilavogui (c), Brooks – William, Arnold, Schlager, Roussillon (Steffen 74’) – Klaus (Brekalo 82’), Weghorst (Nmecha 87’), Joao Victor
Goals: Arnold (16’), Weghorst (61’) / Terrode (90’)
Yellow cards: Steffen / Höger, Drexler, Jorge Mere
Referee: Sven Jablonski (Bremen)