The Wolves flew out of the traps at the Volkswagen Arena and led 2-0 at half-time thanks to goals from Renato Steffen and Wout Weghorst. The Dutchman missed a second-half penalty following a foul on Xaver Schlager, before Sargis Adamyan pulled a goal back for Hoffenheim to ensure a nervy finale. The visitors were also awarded a spot-kick in second-half stoppage time, but Koen Casteels saved superbly from Munas Dabbur as VfL stretched their unbeaten league start to seven matches.
Maximilian Arnold was back in the VfL starting line-up following the birth of his second child on Thursday. The midfielder replaced Yannick Gerhardt in the centre of the park, while Kevin Mbabu was also named among the Wolves substitutes for the first time since suffering a knee ligament injury on international duty in September.
Oliver Glasner’s side quickly settled into their passing rhythm and had the ball in the net after just five minutes, Steffen finishing confidently from Maximilian Philipp’s pass. Referee Sven Jablonski initially disallowed the Switzerland international’s effort for offside, only to change his mind after reviewing the goal on his pitchside monitor.
The Wolves continued to dominate proceedings and doubled their lead when Weghorst drilled the ball past Baumann after the Dutchman’s initial effort had been blocked by Kevin Akpoguma. The visitors almost reduced the arrears two minutes before the interval, but Ishak Belfodil prodded wide after latching on to Dabbur’s through-ball.
Casteels the hero
There was no change to the pattern of play at the beginning of the second half, with Josip Brekalo stinging Baumann’s palms from distance and Weghorst sending a header into the arms of the Hoffenheim custodian within ten minutes of the restart. Jerome Roussillon also went close to extending VfL’s advantage, but Baumann was equal to the full-back’s well-struck effort.
Casteels tipped Dabbur’s header over the crossbar in one of the visitors’ rare forays forward, before Schlager fired over from long range. Weghorst then missed a golden opportunity to make it 3-0, side-footing wide from the penalty spot after Schlager had been fouled by Kevin Vogt. It looked as if that miss would prove costly when Hoffenheim were awarded a penalty of their own following Arnold’s handball, but Casteels tipped Dabbur’s effort past the post to ensure the Wolves held on.
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels - Baku, Lacroix, Brooks, Roussillon - Schlager (Pongracic 89’), Arnold - Steffen (Joao Victor 71’), Philipp (Mehmedi 62’), Brekalo (Gerhardt 71’) - Weghorst
TSG Hoffenheim: Baumann - Bogarde (Klauss 86’), Vogt, Akpoguma, Sessegnon - Rudy, Samassekou (Bebou 75’), Baumgartner, Grillitsch (Adamyan 59’) - Belfodil (Gacinovic 59’), Dabbur
Goals: Steffen (5’), Weghorst (26’), Adamyan (87’)
Yellow cards: Brooks / Baumgartner, Rudy, Vogt
Referee: Sven Jablonski (Bremen)