Karim Bellarabi opened the scoring in the first half, netting his second strike of the season with a powerful finish from a tight angle. Wout Weghorst, Maximilian Arnold and Felix Klaus all had chances to salvage something for the Wolves, but Leverkusen substitute Paulinho clinched the points for the visitors in second-half stoppage time.
Klaus and Roussillon restored
Head coach Oliver Glasner made two changes to the Wolves side that lost to Gent in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday. Klaus and Jerome Roussillon were both restored to the starting XI at the Volkswagen Arena, with Renato Steffen and Josip Brekalo - who suffered a knock against the Belgian outfit - dropping to the bench.
Bellarabi breaks deadlock
There was nothing to choose between the two teams in the early stages of the contest, with the majority of the first 20 minutes played out in the middle third of the pitch. It was Wolfsburg who fashioned the first meaningful chance of the half, Weghorst poking just wide of the near post after fine work from Klaus on the right-hand side.
However, Glasner’s team fell behind just two minutes later when Bellarabi picked up the ball on the right, wriggled past several defenders and beat Pavao Pervan at the near post. Last-ditch defending by Charles Aranguiz prevented Weghorst from producing an immediate response, before Arnold prodded into the side-netting from a tight angle as VfL finished the half strongly.
No way through for Wolves
The Green-and-Whites continued to apply pressure on Leverkusen’s defence after the restart and twice went close to restoring parity. Lukas Hradecky had to be on his toes to palm Arnold’s stinging long-range drive to safety, before Klaus sent a low effort inches wide of the far post. Nadiem Amiri could have doubled the visitors’ lead moments later but dragged his shot just off target.
Glasner introduced Brekalo and Steffen in an effort to inject more tempo into the Wolves attack, and the two substitutes both looked lively after entering the fray. Leverkusen substitute Moussa Diaby blazed over the bar in a one-on-one situation as the visitors sought to double their advantage on the counterattack, with Weghorst bundling Josuha Guilavogui’s cross off target moments later. There was to be no late reprieve for VfL, however, as Paulinho broke clear deep into second-half stoppage time before slotting past Pervan to seal the win for Peter Bosz’s side.
VfL Wolfsburg: Pervan - Tisserand, Bruma, Knoche (Nmecha 83’) - William, Guilavogui, Arnold, Roussillon - Victor (Brekalo 62’), Weghorst, Klaus (Steffen 74’)
Bayer Leverkusen: Hradecky - Weiser, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell - Aranguiz, Demirbay (Paulinho 90’) - Bellarabi (Diaby 46’), Havertz (Baumgartlinger 42’), Amiri - Volland
Goals: Bellarabi (25’), Paulinho (90+6’)
Yellow cards: Victor, Tisserand / Volland, Hradecky
Referee: Manuel Gräfe (Berlin)