Mehmedi verteidigt den Ball.
12.03.2020
First Team

First-leg defeat

VfL Wolfsburg lost 2-1 at home to Shakhtar Donetsk in their UEFA Europa League last-16 first leg, which was held behind closed doors due to coronavirus.

Mehmedi verteidigt den Ball.

Junior Moraes headed the visitors in front from close range, before Koen Casteels saved Viktor Kovalenko’s penalty to prevent Shakhtar from doubling their advantage. John Anthony Brooks restored parity after Wout Weghorst had missed from the spot at the other end, but Marcos Antonio’s close-range finish leaves VfL’s quarter-final ambitions hanging in the balance.

Personnel: Wolves unchanged

Wolves head coach Oliver Glasner kept faith with the team that held high-flying RB Leipzig to a goalless draw in the Bundesliga last weekend. The result stretched VfL’s unbeaten streak in all competitions to eight matches - a run Glasner and his players were confident of extending against Shakhtar despite the continued absence of captain Josuha Guilavogui with a troublesome knee injury.

First half: Weghorst pays the penalty

Weghorst last found the net for VfL at the Volkswagen Arena in December, but the Dutchman almost gave the Wolves the perfect start when he came within a whisker of getting a toe to Xaver Schlager’s in-swinging cross. Maximilian Arnold tested Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov with a low shot from the corner of the penalty area, but it was the visitors who drew first blood when Brooks’ attempted clearance was headed home by Moraes.

Shakhtar missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0 when the video assistant referee ruled that Dodo’s cross had come off Arnold’s arm inside the area, but Kovalenko’s spot-kick was easily held by Casteels. The Green-and-Whites were awarded a penalty of their own - following another VAR review - when Mykola Matviyenko appeared to handle Josip Brekalo’s deflected strike, only for Weghorst to lose his footing on the run-up and blaze his effort high over the crossbar.

Second half: Brooks header not enough

VfL, to their credit, emerged for the second half with renewed purpose and soon got their just rewards, Brooks climbing highest to power a header past Pyatov from Brekalo’s corner. Admir Mehmedi flashed a shot wide from the edge of the area as the Wolves sought to maintain their momentum, but the visitors got their noses back in front when Antonio reacted quickest to prod home the loose ball after Alan Patrick’s free-kick had struck the crossbar.

There was no shortage of effort from the Wolves in the closing stages but the hosts were mostly restricted to shots from distance, with Paulo Otavio and Brekalo both failing to test Pyatov with hopeful efforts. The Croatia international went closest to salvaging a draw in second-half stoppage time, firing straight at the Shakhtar custodian from a tight angle.

VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels - Steffen, Knoche, Brooks, Otavio - Gerhardt, Arnold - Mehmedi (Ginczek 80’), Schlager (Joao Victor 74’), Brekalo - Weghorst

Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov - Dodo, Kryvtsov, Matviyenko, Ismaily (Khocholava 68’) - Kovalenko (Maycon 66’), Marcos Antonio, Tete, Alan Patrick, Taison (Konoplyanka 88’) - Junior Moraes

Goals: Moraes (17’), Brooks (48’), Antonio (73’)

Yellow cards: Weghorst, Steffen, Brooks / -

Attendance: Game played behind closed doors due to coronavirus

Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)

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