The Green-and-Whites maintained their unbeaten record at the Volkswagen Arena in their 13th home match of the season. VfL claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win against 1. FC Köln on Saturday afternoon as they took another important step towards Champions League qualification. Josip Brekalo scored the all-important goal in the 69th minute.
Roussillon replaces injured Mehmedi
VfL coach Oliver Glasner was forced to make one change to the team that beat Werder Bremen on 20 March. Admir Mehmedi returned from international duty with Switzerland with an injury, so Jerome Roussillon came in at left-back and Yannick Gerhardt occupied Mehmedi’s position in midfield.
Chances for Köln
The third-placed Wolves went into the game as favourites against a side who they have not lost at home to since 2010, but it was the visitors who had the first effort on goal in the eighth minute, when Rafael Czichos fired wide. VfL were then given a big let-off six minutes later when Jonas Hector diverted a left-wing cross onto the crossbar – Koen Casteels would have had no chance.
The Green-and-Whites were struggling to make inroads going forward, with Roussillon’s long-range shot over the bar their only half-chance of the early stages. VfL’s first real opportunity arrived on 33 minutes, when Xaver Schlager narrowly missed the target with a shot from distance, but neither side were able to break the deadlock before half-time.
Improvement in second half
Glasner’s men came out for the second half unchanged but with much more attacking intent. Gerhardt curled the ball just wide in the 48th minute, before reverting to left-back in the 62nd minute as Roussillon was replaced by Maximilian Philipp.
Brekalo comes to the rescue
Philipp was indirectly involved in the goal that gave VfL the lead, laying the ball off on the edge of the Köln penalty area to Wout Weghorst, who played it on to Brekalo. The Croatian’s first-time finish took a slight deflection on its way past Timo Horn into the bottom corner of the net. Weghorst then had two good opportunities to wrap up the three points in the final 15 minutes, but Horn was equal to both of the VfL goal-getter’s headers.
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Mbabu, Lacroix, Brooks, Roussillon (62’ Philipp) – Schlager (90’+3 Guilavogui), Arnold, Baku, Gerhardt, Brekalo (73’ Victor) – Weghorst
1. FC Köln: T. Horn – Ehizibue, Mere, Czichos, Katterbach (75’ Kainz) – Shkiri, Hector (75‘ Andersson), M. Wolf (81‘ Dennis), Drexler (66’ Rexhbecaj), Jakobs – Duda (81’ Meyer)
Goals: 1-0 Brekalo (69‘)
Yellow cards: Mbabu, Gerhardt / Kainz
Referee: Robert Hartmann (Wangen)