First Team

Pongracic brace as VfL thrash Bayer

VfL Wolfsburg returned to winning ways in emphatic style on Tuesday evening, earning a 4-1 victory at in-form Bayer Leverkusen.

Marin Pongracic’s thumping header gave the Wolves a deserved lead at the break, with goals from Maximilian Arnold, Renato Steffen and another from Pongracic adding gloss to the scoreline in the second half. Julian Baumgartlinger netted a consolation for the hosts with five minutes remaining, but the goal did little to dampen VfL spirits on a memorable evening at the BayArena.

Brekalo and Victor recalled

Oliver Glasner made two changes to the team that lost 2-0 at home to Dortmund at the weekend. Josip Brekalo and Joao Victor were recalled to the starting eleven, with Daniel Ginczek dropping to the bench. Admir Mehmedi missed the trip to Leverkusen due to an Achilles tendon problem, while youngster Ulysses Llanez was named in the Wolves’ matchday squad for the first time.

Pongracic opens account

Both teams came into the game in impressive form but it was VfL who went closest to an early opener, Edmond Tapsoba turning Victor’s low cross just past his own post with Wout Weghorst lurking. Arnold shot straight at Lukas Hradecky as the Wolves continued to press, before Victor’s goal-bound strike was deflected wide by the Leverkusen goalkeeper.

The breakthrough finally came two minutes before the interval, when Arnold’s expert delivery was emphatically headed home by Pongracic for the defender’s first Bundesliga goal.

Wolves run riot

The Wolves started the second half the way they had ended the first, with Brekalo denied his eighth goal of the season by a sprawling Hradecky. Moussa Diaby appeared to be clean through after latching on to Florian Wirtz’s through-ball, but the 20-year-old was stopped in his tracks by a marvellous Kevin Mbabu challenge.

Glasner’s side doubled their advantage when Arnold’s free-kick from the edge of the penalty area took a wicked deflection on its way past Hradecky, and it was 3-0 moments later as Steffen headed home Victor’s cross for his sixth league goal of the calendar year. Pongracic then sent another header past Hradecky in a near carbon copy of his first-half effort, with Baumgartlinger’s late strike proving scant consolation for the hosts.

The win consolidates VfL’s place in the top six of the Bundesliga, while Leverkusen drop to fifth.

Bayer Leverkusen: Hradecky - Weiser (Baumgartlinger 46’), S. Bender (Dragovic 46’), Tapsoba, Wendell - Aranguiz, Demirbay (Alario 65’) - Bellarabi (Wirtz 46’), Amiri, Diaby (Bailey 74’) - Havertz

VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels - Mbabu, Pongracic, Brooks (Knoche 82’) Roussillon - Schlager, Arnold - Steffen (Marmoush 76’), Brekalo (Ginczek 65’) - Weghorst, Victor

Goals: Pongracic (43’), Arnold (64’), Steffen (68’), Pongracic (75’), Baumgartlinger (85’)

Yellow cards: Demirbay, Baumgartlinger, Diaby / Victor, Ginczek, Casteels

Referee: Daniel Schlager (Hügelsheim)



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