VfL Wolfsburg ended up on the wrong side of a 2-0 scoreline at home to Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 31, despite playing for more than half an hour with an extra man in a head-to-head battle for a top-four finish. BVB forward Erling Haaland scored both goals (12’, 68’) to close the gap on the Green-and-Whites to two points.
Three changes to back four
Oliver Glasner made three changes to his side as Kevin Mbabu and Paulo Otavio filled the full-back positions and Maxence Lacroix returned in central defence, with Jerome Roussillon, Marin Pongracic and Josip Brekalo making way.
The match began at a frenetic pace and Otavio had the first chance for VfL in the eighth minute, but was unable to find the net from 10 yards out. Dortmund, by contrast, scored with their first opportunity, which came about after a lapse from Ridle Baku. His attempted pass back to John Brooks was intercepted by Haaland, who held his nerve in the one-on-one with Koen Casteels, slotting in the opener in the 12th minute. The Wolves continued to play on the front foot but lacked the necessary incision in the final third. Yannick Gerhardt (21’, 38’) and Maximilian Arnold (31’) both had chances to equalise but Dortmund went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
Second yellow for Bellingham
Glasner’s side began the second half with renewed vigour and attacked with purpose: Wout Weghorst fired over on the turn in the 46th minute after good work from Baku. Dortmund were reduced to 10 men on the hour mark when Jude Bellingham was shown his second yellow card of the game after an overzealous challenge on Mbabu, giving the Green-and-Whites 30 minutes to level the score with an extra man. With that in mind, Glasner brought on fresh attackers in Brekalo and Bartosz Bialek in the 65th minute.
Haaland lands knockout blow
Yet VfL’s hopes of a fightback were soon quashed when Mahmoud Dahoud intercepted a pass from Brooks on the edge of his own penalty area and sent the ball forward for Haaland to chase. The pacey forward held off Arnold’s challenge and clinically finished for a second time, netting his 25th Bundesliga goal of the season. It was a tough blow for the Wolves, who subsequently struggled to get back into their stride and ultimately succumbed to a 2-0 defeat.
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Mbabu (65’ Bialek), Lacroix, Brooks, Otavio – Schlager, Arnold, Baku, Philipp (65’ Brekalo), Gerhardt (81’ Mehmedi) – Weghorst
Borussia Dortmund: Hitz – Piszczek, Akanji, Can, Guerreiro – Dahoud, Bellingham, Reus (81’ Meunier), Reyna, Sancho (60‘ Delaney) – Haaland
Goals: 0-1 Haaland (12‘), 0-2 Haaland (68‘)
Yellow cards: Otavio / Meunier
Red card: Bellingham
Referee: Tobias Stieler (Hamburg)