Maximilian Arnold’s first goal since January 2018 gave the Wolves the perfect start after just four minutes. Arnold and William both went close to doubling VfL’s advantage, before Wout Weghorst fired home his ninth league goal of the season from the penalty spot to make it 2-0. Robin Knoche completed the scoring just six minutes later, slotting in from close range following a goalmouth scramble.
Head coach Bruno Labbadia kept faith with the team that was held to a 3-3 draw at SC Freiburg last weekend. Josip Brekalo was handed his 50th Bundesliga appearance at the Volkswagen Arena, while Knoche made his 150th German top-flight outing against the Rhineland club.
Arnold fires VfL ahead
Labbadia’s charges took the game to their opponents from the outset and went in front with just four minutes on the clock. Brekalo picked the ball up in a central position before laying it off to Arnold, who took a touch before firing an unstoppable left-footed shot into the net, ending a run of 3013 minutes without a goal for the 24-year-old midfielder. William’s volley was blocked by Moussa Niakhate as the hosts continued to force the issue, before the Brazilian full-back fired a powerful effort over the crossbar from Renato Steffen’s pass. Mainz began to see more of the ball towards the end of the half, but Sandro Schwarz’s charges failed to test Koen Casteels as the hosts went into half-time with a slender advantage.
Weghorst and Knoche seal win
Clear-cut chances were few and far between in a cagey start to the second period. Arnold tested Mainz goalkeeper Florian Müller with a well-taken free-kick before Brekalo - the Wolves’ best outlet up to that point - sent a long-range effort into the stands behind Müller’s goal. The Wolves were handed a golden opportunity to double their lead when Brekalo’s cross struck Jean-Philippe Gbamin on the arm inside the penalty area, prompting referee Benjamin Cortus to point to the spot after consulting with VAR. Weghorst confidently stroked home his 10th goal of the season in all competitions to put the hosts firmly in the driving seat, and Knoche fired past Müller from point-blank range soon afterwards to put the seal on an impressive victory for the Green-Whites.
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels - William, Knoche, Brooks, Roussillon - Guilavogui (Rexhbecaj 84’) - Gerhardt, Arnold - Steffen (Mehmedi 71’), Brekalo (Klaus 78’) - Weghorst
1. FSV Mainz 05: Müller - Brosinski, Bell, Niakhate, Aaron - Kunde - Gbamin, Latza (Holtmann 78’) - Boetius (Ujah 78’) - Mateta, Quaison (Onisiwo 60’)
Goals: Arnold (4’), Weghorst (pen 70’), Knoche (76)
Yellow cards: Brekalo / Bell
Referee: Benjamin Cortus (Röthenbach)