First Team

VfL suffer last-gasp defeat

VfL Wolfsburg went unrewarded for a dominant display against Hertha Berlin in their first home match of 2020, losing 2-1 to a last-minute goal at the Volkswagen Arena.

The Wolves were on top for the vast majority of the encounter and appeared to be on course for a deserved victory when second-half substitute Admir Mehmedi broke the deadlock. However, the visitors soon equalised through Jordan Torunarigha and went on to snatch all three points through Dodi Lukebakio’s last-gasp header.

Two changes

Head coach Oliver Glasner made a couple of tweaks to his side following last week’s defeat in Cologne. Renato Steffen replaced Daniel Ginczek in attack after impressing – and scoring – as a substitute against the Billy Goats, while Robin Knoche slotted in at centre-back in place of John Brooks, who dropped to the bench.

Plenty of fight, but no goals

Following the shock of the loss to Cologne on Matchday 18, the Wolves began determined to make amends immediately and put their visitors under pressure from the outset. The Green-and-Whites enjoyed more of the ball, but had difficulty breaking down a deep-lying Hertha defence. Jerome Roussillon fired off the first warning shot in the 12th minute, but his effort with his weaker right foot from the edge of the box was comfortably saved by Rune Jarstein.

Marius Wolf had the best chance of the half at the other end of the pitch almost straight away, but he failed to properly connect with a cross inside the six-yard box with just Koen Casteels to beat. That was the only time Hertha breached an otherwise characteristically resilient VfL rearguard, with the rest of the goalmouth action concentrated around the visitors’ area. Josuha Guilavogui and Maximilian Arnold both went close with shots from distance, but the game remained goalless at the interval.

Mehmedi scores, Hertha fight back

VfL emerged for the second half with renewed vigour, winning the battles in midfield and getting forward with purpose down the flanks. Hertha continued to pack their backline, but the Wolves still fashioned their best opening of the game when Steffen stole into the box unnoticed, only to see his effort from close range well blocked by Jarstein.

The Wolves finally got the goal their unrelenting pressure deserved in the 68th minute, when substitute Mehmedi crossed from the left-hand edge of the penalty area, looking for Wout Weghorst in the middle. The Dutch striker ingeniously ducked out of the way though, leaving Jarstein wrong-footed and allowing the ball to curl into the far corner. The lead was short-lived, however, as Hertha levelled the score just a few minutes later when Torunarigha headed in from a corner at the back post. Glasner’s men looked the more likely to grab a winner as they twisted the screw in the closing stages, but Lukebakio’s header in the 90th minute instead gave the visitors the victory.

VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Mbabu, Tisserand, Knoche, Roussillon – Guilavogui (c), Schlager, Arnold (Ginczek 88’), Steffen (Victor 82’), Brekalo (Mehmedi 63’), Weghorst

Hertha Berlin: Jarstein – Klünter, Stark (c), Torunarigha, Mittelstädt – Skjelbred, Ascacibar – Wolf, Grujic, Dilrosun (Esswein 76’) – Lukebakio (Selke 90+2’)

Goals: Mehmedi (68’), Torunarigha (74’), Lukebakio (90’)

Yellow cards: - / Torunarigha

Attendance: 24.894

Referee: Markus Schmidt (Stuttgart)



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