First Team

Wolves grind out first-leg advantage

VfL Wolfsburg came from behind to win 2-1 at home to Malmö FF in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 clash.

The Wolves dominated against the defensive-minded visitors throughout but fell behind at the start of the second half. However, Josip Brekalo’s strike and an Isaac Kiese Thelin own goal soon turned the game around and put VfL in the driving seat going into the second leg in Sweden in a week’s time. Before that, the Wolves are back in Bundesliga action on Sunday when they host 1. FSV Mainz 05.

Guilavogui misses out

Head coach Oliver Glasner made two changes from the side that started the 3-2 win at TSG Hoffenheim at the weekend. Captain Josuha Guilavogui, absent for only the third time this season because of a knee problem, was replaced by Yannick Gerhardt in midfield, while Brekalo was preferred to Renato Steffen in attack.

Wolves huff and puff

Malmö set out their stall early and sat deep to contain the Wolves, who had over 60 per cent of the possession in the first half but struggled to break down their Swedish opponents. The only clear-cut opportunity of the opening period fell to Brekalo, whose powerful shot crashed against the upright after 38 minutes.

Instant response to going behind

The game burst into life early in the second half when the visitors - who hadn’t had a single attempt on target up to that point - were awarded a penalty after Kevin Mbabu handled Kiese Thelin’s cross. The Malmö forward stepped up to put away the spot-kick, but the Wolves responded just two minutes later when Brekalo drove into the box and smashed the ball into the far top corner from a tight angle.

The equaliser lifted Glasner’s men, who immediately pressed for a lead. It came in the 62nd minute when Maxi Arnold’s free-kick picked out Mehmedi, whose header deflected off Kiese Thelin into the bottom corner of the net. The Green-and-Whites continued to dominate proceedings but couldn’t add to their lead, although they did have two good shouts for penalties turned down. It therefore finished 2-1 - a scoreline that neither side will be too disappointed with

VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels - Mbabu, Knoche, Brooks, Roussillon (Otavio 46’) - Gerhardt, Arnold - Schlager (Steffen 71’), Brekalo (Ginczek 90+3’), Mehmedi - Weghorst

Malmö FF: Dahlin - Larsson, Ahmedhodzic, Bengtsson, Safari - Bachirou, Traustason (Rieks 22’, Berget 58’), Christiansen, Nalic - Kiese Thelin, Antonsson

Goals: Kiese Thelin (46 pen’), Brekalo (48’), Mehmedi (62’)

Yellow cards: Gerhardt, Mbabu (suspended) / Safari, Nalic

Attendance: 13,801

Referee: Gediminas Mazeika (Lithuania)



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