VfL Wolfsburg returned home empty-handed from their first competitive match of 2021, slipping to a 2-0 defeat away to last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund on Sunday afternoon.
The Green-and-Whites squandered a number of chances in an evenly balanced Matchday 14 encounter, while goals at the other end from Manuel Akanji (66’) and Jadon Sancho (90’+1) gave Dortmund the victory. The Wolves dropped to sixth in the standings as a result. VfL’s next outing is another away fixture, this time against fifth-placed Union Berlin at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei on Saturday 9 January (kick-off 15:30 CET).
Oliver Glasner brought in four new faces from the team’s previous game, with John Anthony Brooks, Maximilian Arnold, Xaver Schlager and Josip Brekalo replacing Jeffrey Bruma, Josuha Guilavogui, Joao Victor and Daniel Ginczek.
Chance for an early lead
Schlager had the first sight of goal after just 24 seconds, and while his effort flew over the bar it set the tone for several more opportunities in the opening exchanges. First, Schlager fired off target again from 12 yards out in the fifth minute, before Yannick Gerhardt had a glorious chance to score, only to see his shot on the run deflect off Axel Witsel.
And when Ridle Baku tested Roman Bürki from range in the seventh minute, a VfL goal appeared only to be a matter of time. Sancho missed Dortmund’s clearest chance just before the break, firing wide of an empty net on the rebound. Koen Casteels then needed to be alert to keep a direct Marco Reus free-kick out of the top corner on the stroke of half-time.
The VfL custodian made a brilliant one-handed save to stop a fierce Erling Haaland shot early in the second half (53’), a block that signalled the start of an end-to-end game of punch and counter-punch. The Wolves had three chances in quick succession after that, with Wout Weghorst (54’, 55’) and a low drive from Brekalo (55’) all going close. Dortmund took the lead in the 66th minute, though, when the unmarked Akanji headed in from a corner.
Glasner’s charges refused to give up, however, and pushed hard for an equaliser. Paulo Otavio made Bürki work in the 72nd minute, before Akanji made a last-ditch block to deny Weghorst just a few seconds later. But the Wolves’ hard work and commitment ultimately went unrewarded as they failed to score against Dortmund for an eighth successive match. Instead, BVB sealed the victory in stoppage time through Sancho’s goal on the counter.
Borussia Dortmund: Bürki – Meunier, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro – Witsel, Delaney – Sancho, Reus (85‘ Can), Reyna – Haaland (81’ Tigges)
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Baku, Brooks, Pongracic (78’ Lacroix), Otavio – Gerhardt (71‘ Mehmedi), Arnold – Steffen (87‘ Ginczek), Schlager (87‘ Bialek), Brekalo (71‘ Victor) – Weghorst
Goals: 1-0 Akanji (66‘), 2-0 Sancho (90‘+1)
Yellow cards: Hummels, Delaney, Haaland / Steffen
Referee: Manuel Gräfe (Berlin)