The Wolves dominated proceedings from the first whistle and took the lead when Divock Origi prodded home in the 13th minute. Kiel briefly restored parity through Kingsley Schindler (34’) only for Josip Brekalo to fire the hosts back in front in spectacular fashion five minutes before the interval. A sublime Origi pass set up Yunus Malli to complete the 3-1 scoreline 11 minutes into the second half, giving VfL a two-goal cushion heading into Monday’s second leg at the Holstein-Stadion (kick-off 20:30 CEST).
Uduokhai in for Verhaegh
Head coach Bruno Labbadia made just one change to the side that beat 1. FC Köln 4-1 on the final day of the 2017/18 season, bringing Felix Uduokhai into the team in place of club captain Paul Verhaegh, who suffered a head injury against the Billy Goats on Saturday. Maximilian Arnold, starting his ninth consecutive game for the Wolves, was handed the captain’s armband in Verhaegh’s absence.
Origi strikes first
Origi netted his sixth goal of the campaign against Köln at the weekend, and it didn’t take the Belgium international long to put the Wolves’ noses in front on Thursday evening. Malli beat three defenders on the edge of the area before squaring to Renato Steffen, whose goal-bound shot was well saved by Kenneth Kronholm in the Kiel goal. However, Origi was in the right place at the right time to prod home the rebound and send the Volkswagen Arena crowd into raptures. Schindler’s calm finish made it 1-1 against the run of play but Labbadia’s charges retook the lead just six minutes later, Brekalo sending a rocket of a shot into the roof of the net to give VfL a narrow lead at the break.
Malli gives VfL breathing space
The Wolves started the second half in similar fashion to the first, dominating possession and stretching their opponents down the flanks. They got the third goal their superiority deserved on 56 minutes, Origi providing the pass for Malli to round the keeper and tap home into the unguarded net. Steffen nearly added a fourth with a powerful shot that whistled just past the upright, before Arnold fired straight at Kronholm from inside the box. Marvin Ducksch and Aaron Seydel spurned glorious opportunities to pull a goal back for Kiel late on, leaving the visitors with a mountain to climb ahead of next week’s return leg.
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – William, Brooks, Knoche, Uduokhai – Guilavogui, Arnold – Brekalo, Malli (Camacho 86’), Steffen (Blaszczykowski 81’) – Origi (Dimata 90+1’)
Holstein Kiel: Kronholm - Herrmann, Schmidt, Czichos, van den Bergh - Kinsombi - Schindler, Peitz (Mühling 62’), Drexler, Lewerenz (Seydel 62’) - Ducksch
Goals: Origi (13’), Schindler (34’), Brekalo (40’), Malli (56’)
Yellow cards: -
Attendance: 28,800 (sold out)
Referee: Deniz Aytekin (Nuremberg)