It was an even and entertaining contest until Kai Havertz gave Leverkusen the lead from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time, and the visitors sealed the three points with goals from Kevin Volland (62’) and Julian Brandt (88’) in the second period. It could have been a different story, however, had Renato Steffen’s goal not been disallowed with the score at 2-0. Next up for Bruno Labbadia’s men is a trip to Hertha BSC on Saturday 2 February.
With Josuha Guilavogui, Daniel Ginczek and Ignacio Camacho among the players still missing through injury, Labbadia named exactly the same starting line-up and substitutes as he did against FC Schalke 04 last weekend.
Visitors edge first half
Leverkusen, playing only their second game under new coach Peter Bosz, signalled their intent early on and came close to opening the scoring after just five minutes when Karim Bellarabi struck the bar. The Green-Whites’ first opportunity of the game came in the 16th minute, when Admir Mehmedi fired the ball just wide of the far post following Steffen’s through-ball. Sadly, Mehmedi then had to be substituted after picking up an injury, with Yunus Malli replacing him.
The Wolves grew into the game and started to pose more of a threat in the final third. First Steffen volleyed just wide when a loose ball fell to him in the penalty area, before Wout Weghorst was denied by Bayer keeper Lukas Hradecky. They were made to rue those missed opportunities though, when William fouled Volland and Havertz scored the resulting penalty to put Leverkusen in front at half-time.
No VfL comeback
William almost made amends early in the second half, but his shot was blocked by Lars Bender on the line. At the other end, Koen Casteels was called into action a number of times to keep his team in the game as the visitors went in search of a decisive second goal. They eventually got it through Volland in the 62nd minute after a swift counter-attack.
VfL responded immediately and thought they’d got back into the game when Steffen found the net, only for VAR to rule it out. After that, there was to be no comeback for the home side and Leverkusen wrapped up the victory on 88 minutes, Brandt finishing off Bellarabi’s low cross into the box to compound a frustrating afternoon for the Wolves.
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – William (Klaus 77’), Knoche, Brooks, Roussillon – Arnold, Gerhardt, Rexhbecaj (Brekalo 63’), Mehmedi (Malli 28’) – Steffen, Weghorst
Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Hradecky – L. Bender, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell (Weiser 78’) – Havertz, Aránguiz, Brandt – Bailey (Baumgartlinger 77’), Volland, Bellarabi
Goals: Havertz pen (44’), Volland (62’), Brandt (88’)
Yellow cards: Rexhbecaj, William, Brooks, Arnold, Roussillon / Aránguiz, Wendell, Bailey
Referee: Felix Zwayer (Berlin)