Wolfsburg - Luiz Gustavo enjoyed a fine start to his VfL Wolfsburg career as the Wolves outclassed FC Schalke 04 to ease to a 4-0 win in the Volkswagen Arena.
After a tight first half which Wolfsburg marginally shaded, the deadlock was broken when Robin Knoche poked in with his knee. Vieirinha and Naldo then added goals in quick succession, before substitute Stefan Kutschke rounded things off in the dying seconds.
All eyes were on Gustavo, making his maiden appearance for the club since signing from FC Bayern Munich on Friday. Thrown into the starting line-up, the 26-year-old looked well at home in the centre of the park, combining effectively with Ja-Cheol Koo and the more advanced Diego.
The home side were dominating possession in the opening moments of the game but chances were at a premium, and it was in fact Schalke that mastered the first opportunity of note, as Julian Draxler, fit again after injury, saw a goalbound volley blocked. Naldo then tested Timo Hildebrand with a low free-kick at the other end.
Knoche’s maiden strike
Wolfsburg continued to marginally dictate the play amid the searing north German temperatures, and they really should have been in front before the break. Ivica Olic poked over and Naldo headed wide, either side of a horrific miscue from Vieirinha. Yet the visitors might easily have stolen the advantage themselves, with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar firing a beautiful left-foot shot against the post.
The Dutchman had to be withdrawn at the break, but Schalke made a great start to the second half. His replacement Adam Szalai delivered a telling cross that Draxler was a whisker away from converting, before Christian Clemens stung Benaglio’s palms with a half-volley. It was somewhat against the run of play, then, when the hosts went in front, Knoche turning in Ivan Perisic's knock-down from close range.
Royal Blues capitulate
The Royal Blues looked deflated after conceding following their bright start, and soon afterwards they were two goals behind. Perisic was allowed to play a one-two with Koo and when the ball ricocheted to Vieirinha, the winger made up for his earlier miss by turning inside on his left foot and slamming a drive into the far corner.
Dieter Hecking’s men were by now well on top and a third goal wasn’t long in arriving. After Olic and Diego had both been thwarted by Hildebrand, Naldo made sure of the points by powering home from a corner at the second attempt. Diego, Perisic and Koo, the latter after an almighty goalmouth scramble, might have added further goals, but it was left to Kutschke to finish the scoring, sliding in a low effort to round off a brilliant day for the hosts and traumatic one for the guests.
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