Wolfsburg - VfL Wolfsburg closed the gap on both Borussia Mönchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund to three points as they beat VfB Stuttgart 3-1 at the Volkswagen Arena on Saturday evening.

Ricardo Rodriguez’s 38th-minute free-kick from the left flew straight in to give the hosts the lead, and Diego’s deflected set-piece doubled their advantage in the second half. Timo Werner pulled a goal back for Stuttgart, but Ivan Perisic restored Wolfsburg’s two-goal advantage twelve minutes from time to seal a deserved win for Dieter Hecking’s men.

Wolves on the prowl


The Wolves, who were looking to extend their unbeaten Bundesliga run to eight matches against die Schwaben, began strongly and could have taken the lead as early as the sixth minute. Patrick Ochs made a darting run down the left-hand side, before pulling the ball back to Maximilian Arnold, who’s stinging shot was parried to safety by Sven Ulreich. The returning Diego tried his luck from a similar position moments later, only to see his shot fly well over the crossbar.

Stuttgart were struggling to cope with the fluid movement of the hosts’ front four and Ulreich was forced to make another smart save from Daniel Caligiuri, before Arnold spurned a second opportunity when he failed to make contact with a low delivery from Ochs. The visitors almost took the lead out of nothing when Werner was played clean through by Vedad Ibisevic, but the 17-year-old’s goal-bound effort was hacked off the line by the retreating Robin Knoche.

Rodriguez rewarded


Just when it seemed like the visitors were getting a foothold in the game, Wolfsburg took the lead. There was an element of fortune about the goal as Rodriguez’s inswinging free-kick from the left evaded everyone, before nestling in the back of Ulreich’s net. The goal was no less than Hecking’s team deserved, though they were perhaps lucky to go into half-time with their lead intact after Christian Gentner headed over from point-blank range following Ibrahima Traore’s corner.

Wolfsburg extended their lead eight minutes into the second half when Diego’s free-kick from the edge of the penalty area took a wicked deflection off Gentner, leaving Ulreich stranded. Thomas Schneider’s side pulled a goal back less than five minutes later, however, when Werner picked up the ball on the edge of the area and fired a low shot past the outstretched hand of Diego Benaglio to give Stuttgart hope.

Perisic seals win


Werner’s goal appeared to spark a wave of pressure from the visitors, who suddenly looked the more dangerous side. Vedad Ibisevic twice headed over the bar, before Werner found himself through on goal for the second time in the match, only to fire straight at the onrushing Benaglio. The Swiss international stopper was keeping his side's head above water and had to be on his toes moments later to keep out Gentner’s long-range drive.

Gaps started to appear in the Stuttgart backline as the visitors piled forward in search of a later equaliser. Ivan Perisic, who had replaced the impressive Diego moments earlier, took full advantage of the space afforded to him by the visitors’ defence to fire past Ulreich after his initial effort had been saved by the 25-year-old custodian. The win keeps Wolfsburg firmly in the hunt for a European place, while Stuttgart remain tenth in the Bundesliga following their seventh defeat of the season.

Line-ups and statistics

Matthew Howarth