- Wolves leave it late.
- Hamburg played an hour with ten men.
- Gomez makes it three wins in a row.
In a match with few clear-cut chances,VfL Wolfsburg needed over 80 minutes and the energy of new signing Paul-Georges Ntep to find a way through the defensive ranks of ten-man Hamburger SV as the Wolves claimed a vital three points in their fight to avoid relegation.
Goals: 1-0 Gomez (82')
Red card: Ekdal (33')
This was a tie both sides needed to win, but neither could afford to lose, and that showed in the play throughout the first half. Wolfsburg’s new signing Yunus Malli had the first real shot in anger in the opening ten minutes, but his curling effort went just wide. Otherwise, there was little action in front of goal as the home side controlled the game with 66 per cent possession, but without an end product. The game did come to life just after the half-hour mark when Hamburg midfielder Albin Ekdal was shown a second yellow card for his second foul on another Wolfsburg newcomer, Paul-Georges Ntep, but the Wolves failed to make their extra-man advantage count in the first half.
The second 45 minutes began much the same as the first as Wolfsburg increased their share of the possession, but to little effect. Ten-man HSV were content to defend and then counter, and did seemingly pose a greater goal threat than the hosts. However, the Wolves kept huffing and puffing, and did eventually blow the Hamburg house down thanks to Mario Gomez’s close-range finish with ten minutes to go. Wolfsburg have new man Ntep to thank for the winner as he ran past a tired Hamburg defence to cut the ball back for the waiting Gomez in the centre.
Man of the match
There were always going to be question marks surrounding Ntep and how he would adapt to the Bundesliga, but he seems to have done so like a duck to water. The tricky winger gave the Hamburg right-hand side troubles all afternoon, attempting 17 sprints during the game. Hamburg found the best way to stop him was to foul him, which they did four times – including twice by Ekdal for his two yellow cards. It was an impressive debut for the France international alongside fellow new arrival Malli, who also added impetus to the Wolfsburg attack.
Both sides decided to start with several new signings: Wolfsburg had Ntep and Malli in their attack, while Hamburg went with debutants Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Mergim Mavraj at the heart of their defence. All four of them can be pleased with their debuts for their new teams, as the HSV duo held the Wolfsburg attacking efforts despite being a man down. However, the home side had the last laugh as their new player Ntep made the difference against a tired Hamburg defence. Both sides will now be looking for these arrivals to push on in upcoming games as they right to avoid relegation.
- Hamburg have been reduced to ten men in the first half three times this season, but this is just the first of those games they have gone on to lose.
- Mario Gomez has scored the winning goal for Wolfsburg in their last two matches following the 2-1 winner in the final game of 2016 at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
- Gomez also has his first home competitive goal for the Wolves. His previous five for the club had all come on the road.
Wolfsburg: Benaglio (c) – Seguin, Bruma, Rodriguez, Gerdardt – Luiz Gustavo, Guilavogui – Caligiuri (Vieirinha 68'), Malli (Mayoral 80'), Ntep – Gomez
Coach: Valerien Ismael
Hamburg: Mathenia – Sakai (c), Papadopoulos, Mavraj, Douglas Santos - Ekdal, Ostrzolek (Gregoritsch 84') - Müller, Holtby, Kostic – Wood
Coach: Markus Gisdol
Watch: Ntep was impressed with the atmosphere on his Wolfsburg debut!: