The Wolves suffered a disappointing loss at home to Schalke, despite a committed performance in which they not only held their own against the Bundesliga's second-place side but also created the better chances. However, head coach Bruno Labbadia's men missed the opportunity to secure a much-needed win as Paul Verhaegh missed a 76th-minute penalty before Schalke ultimately claimed all three points via an unfortunate Robin Knoche own goal (86’). After the international break, the Green-Whites' next game is away to Hertha Berlin on Saturday 31 March (kick-off 20:30 CET).
Four changes to the line-up
Labbadia brought in four new faces to his starting XI following the disappointing 3-0 defeat in Hoffenheim. William returned from suspension to replace Elvis Rexhbecaj at left-back, while Maximilian Arnold, Josip Brekalo and Nany Landry Dimata all got the nod ahead of Admir Mehmedi (ligament tear in his foot), Yunus Malli and Divock Origi, who were both on the bench.
Aggressive Wolves create chances
The Wolves were focused and determined right from the off against a visiting side who struggled to cause any serious problems for a well-organised VfL defence. At the other end of the pitch, Daniel Didavi had VfL's best chance but headed just wide of the far post following a Brekalo corner from right (24'). However, the clearest opportunity of the first half fell to Schalke when Guido Burgstaller found the unmarked Matija Nastasic in the box, but his close-range effort drew an exceptional point-blank reaction save from Koen Casteels to prevent the Royal Blues from taking the lead against the run of play (41’).
Verhaegh denied from the spot, Knoche's own-goal proves decisive
It was a more open affair in the second period as both sides looked to nick a goal, albeit without taking too many risks and thus conceding on the counter. Then, in the 76th minute, Riechedly Bazoer was felled in the box by Nastasic following a corner and the referee duly awarded a penalty. Captain Verhaegh stepped up to take the spot-kick but was denied by Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann – VfL’s fifth missed penalty of the campaign. Labbadia subsequently opted for all-out attack, bringing on another striker in Victor Osimhen for Bazoer. However, the game was to take another turn for the worse for the hosts. With just four minutes left on the clock Schalke's Breel Embolo forced his way through on the right byline and fizzed a cross into the centre, where Knoche inadvertently turned the ball into his own net. The Green-Whites threw everything forward in search of an equaliser, and Dimata spurned a glorious chance to level the score in stoppage time when he fired over the bar from close range, as ultimately it just wasn’t to be for the Wolves on the night.
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Verhaegh (90''+1, Steffen), Bruma, Knoche, William – Bazoer (80'' Osimhen), Guilavogui – Didavi, Arnold, Brekalo (88'' Origi), - Dimata
FC Schalke 04: Fährmann – Stambouli (64'' Insua), Naldo, Nastasic – Caligiuri, M. Meyer, Bentaleb, Oczipka - Goretzka, Harit (60'' Embolo) – Burgstaller (80'' di Santo)
Goals: 0-1 Knoche (own goal/ 86'')
Yellow cards: - / Insua
Referee: Benjamin Cortus (Röthenbach a. d. Pegnitz)