Bremen - VfL Wolfsburg put an end to a run of four games without a win with a 2-1 victory at SV Werder Bremen that keeps their hopes of clinching a European qualification spot alive.

Junior Malanda and Ivan Perisic both struck within the opening ten minutes before Sebastian Prödl reduced the arrears going in to the break. The hosts did their best to grab an equaliser but it was the Wolves who added to the scoreline through Maximilian Arnold to move level on points with fourth-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

Out of the traps


Keen to make up for a disappointing performance in the 1-1 draw with FC Augsburg, the visitors got off to the perfect start when Malanda’s back post-header was deflected past his own keeper by Prödl. The Wolves were operating with a ruthless efficiency in the opening exchanges, neutralising their hosts, while regularly threatening in the final third, taking just seven minutes to extend their lead.

Christian Träsch was afforded time and space on the right flank, firing in a cross towards Arnold, who cushioned the ball down for Perisic to slam a first-time volley in at the near post. Shell-shocked by the visitors’ early double, Bremen sought to try and reclaim a measure of pride, but were largely restricted to carving out their chances from set-pieces, with Wolfsburg dominating possession.

Set-piece special


Unsurprisingly, it was a dead-ball situation that allowed them back into the game, as Prödl beat Diego Benaglio to Ludovic Obraniak’s free-kick before looping a header into the back of the empty net. The Wolves were undeterred despite conceding and immediately looked to put Bremen on the back foot, with Ricardo Rodriguez drawing a strong save out of Raphael Wolf from 25 yards and Arnold dragging an effort just wide of the target shortly before the half-time whistle.

Though head coach Dieter Hecking had to replace Benaglio with youngster Max Grün in goal, Wolfsburg began the second half in the same vein as they finished the first. Prödl did well to deny Perisic his second goal of the game, with the Croatian looking to take advantage of Wolf's parry from Träsch’s long-range effort, before Malanda had a shot charged down by Cedrick Makiadi.

Wolves bite back


The guests weren’t having as much joy in the final third and regularly failed to produce the killer pass, which allowed Bremen to get themselves back into the game as Nils Petersen crashed a header from six yards back off the crossbar from Zlatko Junuzovic’s corner. Assani Lukimya was the next to go close to restoring parity, but after Olic had unintentionally flicked on another corner, the towering centre-back couldn’t control his shot, firing wide at the back post.

With the game opening up, Wolfsburg then soon put an end to their hosts’ resurgence by grabbing their third goal of the game. Olic was guilty of squandering a golden opportunity, but fortunately for the Croatian, Arnold picked up the loose ball before unleashing an unstoppable strike into the top corner which Wolf could only get fingertips to. The goal dashed any hope Bremen had of producing a comeback as proceedings petered out in the closing stages, allowing the visitors to travel the short distance home with three points in the bag.

Line-ups and statistics

James Thorogood

Sit back and savour Arnold's wondergoal on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: