Berlin – VfL Wolfsburg maintained their push for a return to the European arena with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory away to direct rivals Hertha Berlin in Sunday's Matchday 21 closer.
Skjelbred nails the opener
Second-half strikes from Robin Knoche and substitute Daniel Caligiuri cancelled out Per Skjelbred's opener for the hosts at the capital's Olympiastadion, a result which edges Wolfsburg above Mönchengladbach and into fifth place in the table on 36 points – now five clear of their vanquished hosts.
It was Hertha who made livelier start, carving out their first chance in the third minute as Skjelbred freed up Sami Allagui down the left, but the Tunisia international was unable to get a shot off before the danger was cleared. Wolfsburg looked to be easing their way into the contest by the quarter-hour mark, and on 18 minutes Ivan Perisic just failed to get a touch on Kevin De Bruyne's deflected cutback. The next opportunity fell at the other end and Hertha made it count. Adrian Ramos crossed from the right, Skjelbred snapped the ball away from teammate Allagui and at the second attempt, after Patrick Ochs had blocked the first, the Norwegian midfielder drilled the ball low into the corner past VfL custodian Diego Benaglio.
A goal to the good, Hertha went in search of a second and after a couple of half-chances from headers, Ramos had a real one on 36 minutes when he intercepted a careless Slobodan Medojevic pass just outside the Wolfsburg box, but the in-form Colombian's attempted lob sailed over the crossbar. Minutes later, Ochs got in a timely tackle on Allagui as the Hertha men set himself up to bury Marcel Ndjeng's cross at close-range. The Wolves were off the hook and 1-0 it remained through to the interval.
Wolfsburg turn it around again
Dieter Hecking's men came out after the restart seeking to overcome a 1-0 deficit for the fourth time this season and after a decidedly quiet opening 15 minutes at both ends, they got themselves halfway there courtesy of their first corner of the half. Ricardo Rodriguez swung the ball in from the right and Knoche rose unchallenged to power it past Thomas Kraft. The goal stung Hertha into action, starting with a razor-sharp counter-attack which ended with Ramos denied again as the visitors managed to clear their lines.
With 20 minutes to go, Hecking brought Caligiuri into the action in place of Perisic and the move soon paid rich dividends. Shortly after Cigerci had troubled Benaglio with a low drive from distance, the Wolves sub picked up a ball on the left, cut inside and hammered a great near-post finish past Kraft. Inside the final ten minutes the combined efforts of Hertha's own subs Ronny and Änis Ben-Hatira produced a header against the bar on the back of a free kick. It would not have counted anyway as Ramos's cross for the assist was ruled out of play, and that was as close as the home side would come to an equaliser.
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