Wolfsburg had John Brooks sent off but still held on to earn a valuable point in a 0-0 draw away to Lille in their Group G opener on their return to the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
Lille 0-0 Wolfsburg
Sent off: Brooks (62’)
Wolfsburg made the early running against the reigning French champions in their first outing in the competition for six years, but despite enjoying more possession and winning more challenges in a robust, physical contest, they struggled to break down their hosts. Lille looked a tick sharper in the final third and the Wolves needed a block from Josuha Guilavogui and a fine save from Koen Casteels to keep out veteran forward Burak Yilmaz early on. Sven Botman then headed just over from a corner and while Yilmaz was a constant menace, lurking on the shoulder of the last defender, Jonathan David and Angel Gomes also went close with efforts from range.
The match continued in a similar vein after the interval and David even had the ball in the net early on, but the goal was disallowed after a VAR review as the ball had gone out of play in the build-up. Yilmaz and Jonathan Ikone subsequently both went close before momentum swung even further in the home side’s favour when Brooks was sent off for a second bookable offence. Casteels made another outrageous save to deny a Yilmaz header from point-blank range, and the veteran forward was frustrated further in the closing stages when his free-kick from the edge of the box cannoned into the wall. Chances were few and far between for the Wolves, with Maximilian Philipp and Jerome Roussillon both blazing off target from 16 yards with the team’s most presentable openings. The final whistle came as something of a relief for Mark van Bommel’s men after nearly half an hour with a numerical disadvantage, but they deservedly take a point home after a battling performance.
- Wolfsburg are back in the Champions League for the first time since the 2015/16 season, when they made it to the quarter-finals before going out to eventual winners Real Madrid.
- Weghorst was the Wolves' 25-goal top scorer last season, two of which came in Europe. The big Dutchman scored seven more than Lille's top scorer Burak Yilmaz, who won the French title with his side.
- Wolfsburg have never been beaten by Lille. The teams met in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League group stages, sharing a 1-1 draw before the Wolves won 3-0.
- In Roussillon, Guilavogui and Maxence Lacroix, Wolfsburg have three French first-team regulars. Roussillon bagged a goal and an assist against Lille in a 3-0 win for Montpellier in November 2017.
- Lille midfielder Sanches featured 53 times for Bayern Munich before swapping Bavaria for northern France in 2019.
- Lille forward David is at the vanguard of a perceived coming golden generation for Canada alongside good friend and nascent Bayern star Davies.
Lille: Grbic - Celik, Fonte (c), Botman, Reinildo - Ikone (Lihadji 75'), Andre, Xeka (Onana 84'), Gomes (Yazici 74') - David, Yilmaz
Unused subs: Cesar, Djalo, Gudmundsson, Niasse, Ascone
Out: Bamba (thigh), Sanches (knee), Weah (thigh)
Coach: Jocelyn Gourvennec
Wolfsburg: Casteels (c) - Mbabu, Lacroix, Brooks, Roussillon (Gerhardt 84') - Guilavogui, Arnold - Baku (Lukebakio 61'), Philipp (Bornauw 63'), Steffen (Waldschmidt 62') - Weghorst (L. Nmecha 66')
Unused subs: Pervan, Klinger, Van de Ven, Vranckx, F. Nmecha, Ginczek
Out: Bialek (knee), Otavio (ankle), Schlager (knee), William (knee)
Coach: Mark van Bommel
As it happened!
YILMAZ OFF TARGET
The Lille forward takes the set piece and goes for goal, but it's blocked for a corner. They won't get the chance to take it though because it was the last kick of the game.
PENALTY DECISION OVERTURNED - FREE-KICK
VAR confirms the tackle was outside the box, but Lille now have a free-kick in a dangerous area, right on the left-hand edge of the box.
PENALTY TO LILLE!
Guilavogui slides in to tackle Onana and the referee points to the penalty spot. It's gone to a VAR review as it looked like the tackle was outside the area...
WIDE FROM FONTE!
Casteels comes off his line to punch clear a corner, but he can only hit it as far as Fonte, who is lurking near the penalty spot. The Lille defender tries to loop his header into the empty net but directs it wide of the post!
SIX MORE MINUTES
There's still plenty of time left in this one as a huge six minutes of stoppage time will be played.
CAN WOLFSBURG HOLD ON?
The green shirts are camped inside their own half now, standing compactly as they seek to see the result to the final whistle. A draw isn't what they'd have wanted at kick-off, but given the way the game has gone they'll no doubt be happy if they can take a point here.
YILMAZ HITS THE WALL
Yilmaz takes the set piece but his powerful effort crashes into Bornauw in the wall and is eventually cleared.
FREE-KICK FOR LILLE
Guilavogui is a little clumsy as he stretches to tackle Yazici from behind, and he gives away a free-kick in a dangerous position right on the edge of the penalty area in a central position.
FIRST SUBS FOR LILLE
The hosts make their first changes of the game as they bid to break down the 10 men of Wolfsburg.
ROUSSILLON BLAZES WIDE
Some relief from the waves of Lille pressure as Waldschmidt switches play to Roussillon on the left. He takes a touch and smashes a shot at goal, but it goes well wide of the frame.
CASTEELS HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!?!
A simply stunning save from Casteels! Lille whip in a corner from the right and it's headed on to Yilmaz, who's inside the six-yard box. He redirects the ball with a header of his own but somehow Casteels makes the save from point-blank range to keep it out! Yilmaz can't believe it!
Van Bommel reacts to Brooks' expulsion by taking off Weghorst and bringing on another centre-back in Bornauw - possibly a sign that he'd be happy to take a point at this stage. Lukas Nmecha also comes to provide the focal point of the attack, with Philipp the man to make way.
MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB
Brooks is sent off for a second bookable offence after handling the ball while going in for a challenge with Ikone. It comes just a few minutes after he was cautioned for hauling Yilmaz off the ball.
DOUBLE CHANGE FOR VFL
Wolfsburg boss Mark van Bommel has reacted to his side's struggles this half and brought on fresh legs in summer signings Waldschmidt and Lukebakio, with Steffen and Baku making way.
SIGN OF LIFE
Wolfsburg finally managed to break forward themselves and Philipp finds himself unmarked on the edge of the Lille penalty box. He shoots straight away but slices his effort just too much and it swerves away from the target.
Mbabu and Roussillon both lose possession in quick succession, which allows Lille to break forward at pace once again. Brooks is on hand to cover, but his clearance in front of Ikone looks a tad panicked.
IKONE OFF TARGET
The Lille forward receives the ball on the left-hand corner of the Wolfsburg box and tries to curl the ball into the far corner of Casteels' net. He connects well but gets too much on it, and his effort sails high and wide. Still, it's another warning sign for Wolfsburg as the hosts have turned things up a notch this half.
A free-kick from deep is curled into the Wolfsburg box and Yilmaz is first to it. He gets a glancing header on the ball but it bounces wide of the far post.
Lille thought they had taken an early lead after Gomes robbed Roussillon of the ball on the halfway line and launched a quick counter-attack. Jonathan David ended up rifling the ball past Casteels, but after VAR review the effort was ruled out because the ball had gone out of play when Gomes challenged Roussillon.
You get the sense that whoever scores the first goal here will win this match. Can Wolfsburg find a way to unlock the home rearguard?
ALL SQUARE AT THE BREAK
It's been a satisfactory return to the Champions League for Wolfsburg so far. They've had more possession (58 per cent) and won more tackles (51 per cent), but have had to survive a couple of scary moments, with the home side carving out the best chances of the game up to now.
THREE ADDED MINUTES
We're approaching the end of the half now, with a couple of minutes tacked on due to injuries.
SUPER KOEN!The Wolfsburg number one has been the busier of the two goalkeepers so far.
© Eibner-Pressefoto/Gabriel Boia via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Eibner
GOMES GOES CLOSE!
The Lille midfielder picks the ball up a good 35 yards from goal. There's nobody near him so he lets rip with a swerving drive that whistles just wide of Casteels' near post!
YILMAZ FIRES OVER!
Yilmaz manages to get the better of Lacroix this time as he sprints to collect a ball behind the Wolfsburg defence. He gets into the area and fires at goal, but can only blaze it over the bar under pressure from the Wolfsburg centre-back. It wouldn't have counted anyway as the assistant referee waves his flag for offside.
A wonderful piece of skill from Philipp as he sprints forward and instantly controls a long ball forward as it drops over his shoulder. He plays it to Baku on his right, and the Germany international immediately tries to slip in Mbabu on the overlap but he's crowded out. It's a shame, as Philipp's touch there deserved to be included in the game highlight reel.
DAVID DRILLS WIDE
The Lille forward finds a pocket of space on the edge of the Wolfsburg area and gets a low, left-footed shot away. Casteels watches it all the way but it's not powerful enough to trouble him and it rolls wide anyway.
Mbabu pings a pass from the right into the feet of Weghorst, who has his back to goal about 20 yards out. He tries to cushion it into the run of Philipp - much as he did when setting up Nmecha's goal at the weekend - but the Dutchman doesn't quite get his angles right and the pass is intercepted.
MIDFIELD BATTLEWolfsburg have had more of the ball so far, but Lille have had the better chances.
© Eibner-Pressefoto/Gabriel Boia via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Eibner
GREAT CHANCE FOR YILMAZ!
Jonathan David does well on the right and tears into the box. He gets to the byline and cuts the ball back for Yilmaz, who's unmarked about 12 yards out. The Turkish forward slips as he controls it though, meaning he's stretching as he gets a shot away. In the end it's a comfortable save for Casteels, but it could have been a lot more dangerous.
MBABU ALMOST IN
The Wolfsburg right-back makes inroads on his flank, outmuscling his marker as he enters the box. He could lay the ball off to Arnold on the edge of the area but hesitates just a moment too long and the opportunity disappears.
OVER FROM BOTMAN!
The hosts have their next chance from the resulting corner as Botman climbs highest to meet the delivery from the left. He's under pressure from Lacriox though and can only direct his effort over the bar from the edge of the six-yard box.
CASTEELS DENIES YILMAZ
The Lille forward has a go with a direct free-kick from 20 yards from the inside-left channel. It's flying in, but Casteels is alert to the danger and makes a brilliant save.
The visitors have switched tactics now and have ceded the ball to the home side, concentrating instead on hounding them quickly in their own half to try to force a mistake. No dice yet though...
BIG BLOCK FROM GUILAVOGUI
Lille break forward quickly at pace and a ball is slid into the path of Yilmax as he tears into the box. He'll have a chance to shoot if he can get it, but Guilavogui stretches a long leg and yoinks it clear just in time.
The Wolves have had considerably more of the ball in these early stages so far, pushing over 80 per cent, but it's been largely concentrated in their own half and in deep midfield. Van Bommel's men are yet to seriously trouble the home defence.
BATTLE LINES DRAWN
The teams are still settling into a rhythm but there have already been a couple of early tussles between Yilmaz and Lacroix, the veteran forward clearly seeking to unnerve the more inexperienced of Wolfsburg's centre-backs. He hasn't had any joy though, and on the basis of Lacroix's displays over the last year or so, he's not likely to...
HERE WE GO!
The ball is rolling in Lille. Game on!
TEAM NEWS - WOLFSBURG
Wolves boss Mark van Bommel makes four changes to the side that overcame Fürth on Saturday. John Brooks and Jerome Roussillon return at centre-back and left-back respectively, with Sebastiaan Bornauw and Yannick Gerhardt dropping to the bench. The other changes are in attacking midfield, where Renato Steffen and Ridle Baku come in for Luka Waldschmidt and Lukas Nmecha.
These teams have met twice before, in the group stage of the 2014/15 season. Josuha Guilavogui, who starts here, also began the most recent fixture in December 2014 but was sent off in the second half of a 3-0 away win for the Wolves. Maximilian Arnold was an unused substitute that day. The first game ended in a 1-1 draw in Wolfsburg.
WATCH: FÜRTH 0-2 WOLFSBURGThe Wolves warmed up for this game with a 2-0 triumph over Greuther Fürth at the weekend, keeping their perfect start to the Bundesliga campaign with four wins from as many games. Can they add another win to their collection here?
LILLE STARTING XI
Grbic - Celik, Fonte (c), Botman, Reinildo - Ikone, Andre, Xeka, Gomes - David, Yilmaz
Cesar, Djalo, Gudmundsson, Yazici, Lihadji, Onana, Niasse, Ascone
WOLFSBURG STARTING XI
Casteels (c) - Mbabu, Lacroix, Brooks, Roussillon - Guilavogui, Arnold - Baku, Philipp, Steffen - Weghorst
Pervan, Klinger, Bornauw, Van de Ven, Waldschmidt, Vranckx, L. Nmecha, F. Nmecha, Lukebakio, Gerhardt, Ginczek
Thank you for joining us for live build-up and coverage of Wolfsburg's return to the Champions League, with the Wolves appearing in the competition for the first time since 2015/16, having finished as Bundesliga runners-up in the previous campaign.