bundesliga

Wout Weghorst strikes again as Wolfsburg close in on UEFA Champions League with win in Stuttgart

Wolfsburg strengthened their claim for UEFA Champions League football next season with a 3-1 win at VfB Stuttgart keeping them five points clear of fifth-placed Borussia Dortmund with just four games of the season left.

VfB Stuttgart 1-3 Wolfsburg
Goals: 0-1 Schlager (13'), 0-2 Weghorst (25'), 0-3 Gerhardt (65'), 1-3 Castro (90'+2)

Sasa Kalajdzic had the first big chance of the game in the ninth minute when he only had Koen Casteels to beat, but Stuttgart's giant centre-forward placed his shot too close to the last line of the Wolfsburg defence. Wolfsburg were more ruthless with their first opportunity, which Xaver Schlager struck in from distance after the ball fell invitingly for him just outside the Stuttgart penalty area. Philipp Förster had the chance to bring the hosts level when John Brooks handled inside his own penalty area, but his spot-kick was saved by Casteels. Weghorst then doubled the guests' advantage with a diving header from Josip Brekalo's cross, giving the clinical visitors a cushion at the break.

Stuttgart endeavoured to find a route back into the game with Tanguy Coulibaly going close early in the second half, but it did not look like it would be their night when Brekalo cut the ball back for Yannick Gerhardt to curl into the top left-hand corner from the edge of the area, effectively putting Wolfsburg out of sight. Roberto Massimo's shot against the inside of the post, which bounced out to safety, was symptomatic of a frustrating night for Stuttgart. They did have something to celebrate when Gonzalo Castro's shot took a deflection off Marin Pongracic, though it was scant consolation for the Swabians, whose hopes of joining Wolfsburg in Europe next season suffered a potentially fatal setback.

Match stats

  • Schlager scored his second goal of the season, his first coming on Matchday 8 in a 2-0 win at Schalke.
  • Weghorst increased his personal best single-season haul to 20 (he netted 18 for AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie in 2017/18). Only Grafite (28 in 2008/09) and Edin Dzeko (26, 2008/09 and 22, 2009/10) scored more goals in a single season for Wolfsburg.
  • The Dutchman has racked up six goals and four assists in his last seven Bundesliga outings.
  • Gerhardt's two goals this season have both come against sides from Baden-Württemberg, after he struck in the 3-0 win over Freiburg on Matchday 19.
  • VfB substitutes have combined for 14 goals this term, a Bundesliga high.
  • Stuttgart have lost three in a row for the first time this season.
  • Wolfsburg are on course for their highest Bundesliga finish since 2014/15, when they were runners-up behind Bayern. That was also the last time they qualified for the Champions League.

Watch: Wout Weghorst - "Proud to reach 20 goals"

Line-ups

Stuttgart: Kobel - Karazor, Anton, Kempf - Massimo, Endo (c), Ahamada (Didavi 71'), Coulibaly - Förster (Castro 71'), Klimowicz (Churlinov 63') – Kalajdzic (Cisse 80')
Unused subs: Bredlow, Mola, Thommy, Stenzel, Klement
Out: Egloff (ankle), Gonzalez (thigh), Kaminski (not included), Mangala (thigh), Mavropanos (suspended), Mola (hip), Silas (knee), Sosa (knee)
Coach: 
Pellegrino Matarazzo

Wolfsburg: Casteels (c) - Baku, Pongracic, Brooks, Roussillon - Schlager (Guilavogui 66'), Arnold - Brekalo (Ginczek 76'), Gerhardt, Philipp (Mehmedi 66') – Weghorst (Bialek 87')
Unused subs: Pervan, Lacroix, Bruma, Siersleben, Joao Victor
Out: Guilavogui (groin), Mbabu (suspended), Otavio (suspended), Steffen (ankle)
Coach: Oliver Glasner