Again, in their second game under the guidance of new head-coach Bruno Labbadia, the Wolves were again unable to secure a victory. In Labbadia’s home debut, VfL Wolfsburg slipped to a 1-2 (0-1) defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. Lucas Alario, from the penalty-spot (17') and Julian Brandt (78') were on target for Bayer 04, with Admir Mehmedi pulling back a goal for the hosts (79'). This coming Saturday, March 10th (kick-off 15:30 CET), the Wolves travel to TSG Hoffenheim.
Mehmedi in from the outset
In comparison to the side that began in the 1-1 draw with Mainz, Wolves coach Labbadia opted to make two changes to his starting eleven: Maximilian Arnold and Admir Mehmedi got the nod from the outset ahead of Riechedly Bazoer and Yunus Malli (both on the bench).
Alario from the spot
From the kick-off, both sides look to play football out from their respective defences and make headway towards the opposition goal with good, combination play. The first chance of the tie fell to the visitors, with Lars Bender firing just wide early on (1'). Shortly afterwards, Arnold tried his luck from distance, forcing a decent save from Bayer keeper Bernd Leno (17'). Then the shock for the Wolves! Arnold was adjudged to have brought down Kai Havertz in the box and referee Felix Zwayer immediately pointed to the spot. Alario took on the responsibility and tucked his penalty away comfortably, to make it 1-0 for Bayer (31') – an advantage which they took into the break.
The second period began with the guests from Leverkusen hitting the crossbar: From a set-piece, Charles Aranguiz turned the ball against the frame of the goal from 20 meters out (51') – fortune favours the Green-Whites! As the tie progressed, the Wolves struggled to relieve the pressure on their own back-line, whilst Bayer continually looked to attack with presentable combination football.
Mehmedi’s ray of hope
With their first goal-oriented offensive move of the half, the visitors then extended their advantage, with the second goal of the game: Substitute Brandt was sent on his way by Alario and chipped the ball deftly over the advancing Koen Casteels, to make it 0-2 (78'). The hosts however, showed an immediate reaction and a shimmer of hope rippled through the Green-White fateful: Taking on a pass at the edge of the box, the unmarked Mehmedi immediately unleashed a shit, which curled perfectly into the top corner – 1-2 (79'). The Wolves instantly reacted more aggressively, but failed to truly create in front of the Bayer goal. In a turbulent closing phase, the previously booked William saw a second yellow and was duly dismissed (90' + 1). In the end, the score-line was to remain 1-2 from the VfL view-point.
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Verhaegh, Bruma, Knoche, William – Guilavogui, Arnold (82. Bazoer)– Brekalo (66. Malli), Didavi, Mehmedi – Origi (72. Dimata)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Leno – L. Bender, S. Bender (46' Jedvaj), Tah, Wendell – Baumgartlinger (88' Kießling), Aranguiz – Bellarabi (67' Brandt), Havertz, Volland - Alario
Goals: 0-1 Alario (31'/ pen.), 0-2 Brandt (78'), 1-2 Mehmedi (79')
Yellow cards: Verhaegh, Didavi, Knoche, Arnold, Bazoer / -
Yellow-red cards: William (90'+1)
Referee: Felix Zwayer (Berlin)