Wolfsburg - VfL Wolfsburg secured three badly-needed points with a well-deserved 3-1 victory - their first of the season at home - over a disappointing Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Diego at the double
Two early goals from playmaker Diego and a third by Dutch striker Bas Dost effectively killed the game as a contest with just over half an hour played, Stefan Kießling nabbing a consolation effort for Bayer right at the death. The result leaves Wolfsburg still down in the relegation play-off slot but level with the two teams directly above them. Leverkusen, who had arrived at the Volkswagen Arena on an unbeaten run of twelve games in all competitions, remain in fifth, missing out on the opportunity to squeeze into the top three.
The hosts could hardly have asked for a better start to the contest. With three minutes on the clock Diego earned a free kick a few metres outside the Bayer box for a foul by Philipp Wollscheid. The 33-time Brazil international took it himself and to devastating effect, curling it into the top corner past guest custodian Michael Rensing. It was the eleventh directly converted effort of his Bundesliga career, a best-mark among currently active players.
Leverkusen came close to levelling from a set piece themselves five minutes later in a busy opening spell, as Andre Schürrle's low free kick was well turned round the post by VfL keeper Diego Bengalio. Just 16 minutes in, though, the Wolves struck again. Ivica Olic's sharp ball into the six-yard box was knocked down by Dost to Diego, who clinically dispatched it from close range.
Wolves in command
Two efforts, two goals for the home side. By contrast Benaglio denied Leverkusen for the second time midway through the half, pulling off a great reflex save to Stefan Kießling's shot after Schürrle had found his fellow frontman inside the box. Wolfsburg seemed more than happy to play the visitors on the break and it was paying dividends.
After Josue missed out on Makoto Hasebe's dangerous cut-back by inches, they did indeed go 3-0 up in the 33rd minute. Marcel Schäfer ran onto Diego's delicate lob and fired a low cross into the box for Dost to tap home. The Dutch forward's fourth goal of the season left the Werkself with a mountain to climb, and they went about it slowly. The only other chance of note in the first 45 fell to Dost and, after the restart, Wolfsburg picked up where they had left off, with Olic and Diego causing the Bayer defence problems early on.
The visitors' first real opportunity to pull one back came in the 54th minute, Benaglio once again managing to clear his lines when a shot from Daniel Carvajal took a dangerous deflection. The match flattened out considerably after that, with Wolfsburg content to contain their largely ineffectual opponents.
Leverkusen were denied a consolation strike when Renato Augusto hit the bar directly from a corner-kick in the 81st minute, while at the other end Michael Rensing spared his side further embarrassment with a fine stop to a low shot from Dost. In added time, the guests did eventually find the net, Junior Fernandes freeing up Kießling to plant a clinical far-post finish past Benaglio. The frontman's seventh goal of the campaign was too little, far too late.
Line-ups and statistics