Despite dominating the game – with 29 attempts on goal to the visitors’ eight – Oliver Glasner’s men found themselves behind early in the second half, but Kevin Mbabu’s first Bundesliga goal earned the Wolves a deserved point. They finish the first half of the season with a trip to champions FC Bayern Munich on Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CET).
Glasner’s line-up showed two alterations from Sunday’s 2-1 win at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Marcel Tisserand returned from suspension to replace Robin Knoche in the centre of defence, while Josip Brekalo came in for Renato Steffen on the wing as the Wolves again lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
There were no signs of tired legs at the Volkswagen Arena as the match got off to a fast-paced, end-to-end start. VfL almost took the lead in only the second minute, but Wout Weghorst’s looping header from Mbabu’s cross was cleared on the line by Bastian Oczipka. The Wolves tested Schalke’s stand-in goalkeeper Markus Schubert with long-range shots from Josuha Guilavogui and Brekalo, while Tisserand’s glancing header from Maximilian Arnold’s cross sailed just wide of the target.
The Royal Blues did threaten on the counter and Koen Casteels was called into action to tip Fabian Reese’s shot around the post after some nice combination play, but the majority of the chances continued to come at the other end. In the 34th minute, Arnold’s effort from the edge of the area was pushed wide by Schubert, and the 21-year-old goalkeeper then denied Tisserand from the subsequent corner. The Wolves kept coming and Joao Victor had two good chances in the space of a couple of minutes near the end of the first half, but the ball just wouldn’t go in.
Mbabu salvages point
The home side were punished for not converting their first-half dominance in the 51st minute. Ozan Kabak’s header from a corner was pushed against the post by Casteels but the rebound fell into the path of the young Turk, who bundled it in. That goal momentarily took the wind out of VfL’s sails but they gradually began to reapply pressure, Brekalo being denied by Schubert once more in the 63rd minute.
Having frustrated the Wolves all game, Schubert then made an error for the equaliser, fumbling a corner and allowing Mbabu to volley in the loose ball. The Green-and-Whites pushed for a winner in the closing stages, with Victor and his replacement Daniel Ginczek both seeing efforts saved by the Schalke custodian, but in the end they had to settle for a point.
The events on the pitch were overshadowed by tragedy as a male Schalke fan had an accident on his way to the Volkswagen Arena and later died in hospital. The thoughts of everyone at VfL Wolfsburg go out to Schalke and the victim’s family.
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels - Mbabu, Tisserand, Brooks, Roussillon – Guilavogui – Joao Victor (Ginczek 88’), Schlager, Arnold, Brekalo (Steffen 65’) - Weghorst
FC Schalke 04: Schubert – Kenny (Becker 90+3’), Kabak, Oczipka, Miranda - Mascarell - Caligiuri, Serdar - Harit (Boujellab 81’) – Reese (Raman 70’), Burgstaller
Goals: Kabak (51’), Mbabu (82’)
Yellow cards: Tisserand / Burgstaller
Referee: Martin Petersen (Stuttgart)