Wout Weghorst scored his seventh goal of the Bundesliga campaign - and first of 2019 - as Wolfsburg edged a hard-fought encounter with fellow European hopefuls Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
Goals: 0-1 Weghorst (65')
With temperatures just above freezing and snow falling at the Olympiastadion it wasn't easy for either side to get into their groove early on, but Wolfsburg made the livelier start and should have taken the lead from a well-worked counter-attack. After good work from Yunus Malli, Jerome Roussillon was denied twice in quick succession by Rune Jarstein, who instinctively tipped the Frenchman's second effort onto the crossbar. Hertha's best opportunity came when visiting keeper Koen Casteels misjudged a free-kick delivery, but Karim Rekik – taken by surprise – could only head an attempted cross onto the bar. The Wolves continued to enjoy the lion's share of possession and chances, with Renato Steffen twice going close, but neither team could find a way through before the interval.
The second half began in a similar vein with play swinging from end to end, but neither goalkeeper was tested until after the hour mark, when Hertha midfielder Arne Maier cut in from the left flank and fired straight at Casteels. A minute later, Wolfsburg finally took a deserved lead through top scorer Weghorst, who turned past Jarstein from close range after a clever ball across from Roussillon, heavily involved in the build-up. Pal Dardai reacted by throwing on all three of his substitutes in the next six minutes, and one of them, Vladimir Darida, almost found an equaliser after Casteels had parried Marko Grujic's header. The Belgian was not to be denied his clean sheet, though, producing another superb save to deny Davie Selke at the death as it finished 1-0. The result moves Wolfsburg up to sixth in the table – the final European spot - while Hertha slip to ninth.
- Weghorst has scored more goals this season (7) than all of the Wolfsburg forwards put together (6) in 2017/18.
- The Wolves snapped a six-game winless streak against Hertha. They hadn't won in the capital since February 2014.
- Brooks made 99 Bundesliga appearances for hometown club Hertha before joining Wolfsburg in summer 2017.
- Liverpool loanee Marko Grujic was previously unbeaten in his nine Bundesliga appearances for Hertha (W6, D3).
- Hertha coach Pal Dardai named the same starting XI for a third straight game, a first since March 2017.
- Davie Selke scored his first Bundesliga goal for Hertha in Wolfsburg in November 2017.
Hertha: Jarstein – Stark, Lustenberger, Rekik – Lazaro, Grujic, Maier (Darida 71'), Plattenhardt (Mittelstädt 67') – Duda – Selke, Ibisevic (c) (Kalou 66')
Unused subs: Kraft, Skjelbred, Köpke, Torunarigha
Out: Kade, Luckassen (both ankle), Leckie (fatigue)
Coach: Pal Dardai
Wolfsburg: Casteels (c) – Verhaegh, Knoche, Brooks, Roussillon – Gerhardt, Arnold, Rexhbecaj (Uduokhai 90'+2) – Malli (William 86'), Weghorst, Steffen (Brekalo 66')
Unused subs: Pervan, Yeboah Zamora, Tisserand, Itter
Out: Guilavogui (thigh), Jung, Mehmedi (both knocks), Azzaoui (knee), Camacho (ankle), Ginczek (ankle), Ntep (muscular)
Coach: Bruno Labbadia