Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04 made it four home wins out of four in all competitions under Roberto Di Matteo with a pulsating 3-2 win over VfL Wolfsburg, whose six-game winning streak in the Bundesliga came to an end at the Veltins Arena.
Schalke in dreamland
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s well-taken brace put Schalke 2-0 up after just 22 minutes, before Christian Fuchs’ free-kick made it three for the hosts just moments later. Ivica Olic pulled a goal back for the Wolves before half-time and Nicklas Bendtner made it 3-2 late on, but Roberto Di Matteo’s side dug deep to hold on for all three points.
A trip to Gelsenkirchen was always going to provide a real test of the in-form Wolves’ UEFA Champions League credentials and Dieter Hecking’s side made the worst possible start in front of a sell-out crowd. Wolfsburg’s midfield failed to close down Marco Höger, who delivered an inch-perfect pass for Choupo-Moting inside the penalty area. The Cameroon international controlled the ball with his right foot, before sending an unstoppable shot past Diego Benaglio and into the far corner.
Dieter Hecking’s charges did not let their heads drop, though, and almost responded immediately when Ivan Perisic crossed for compatriot Ivica Olic, but the low ball evaded the veteran striker by inches. Instead, it was Schalke who doubled their advantage in sublime fashion half way through the first period. Kevin-Prince Boateng curled a stunning through ball with the outside of his boot towards Choupo-Moting, who dinked the ball over Benaglio for his second of the afternoon.
Olic pulls one back
Things went from bad to worse for Wolfsburg just three minutes later. Christian Fuchs’ in-swinging free-kick from the right wing evaded everyone, including Benaglio, and landed in the back of the net to make it 3-0. The Royal Blues looked to be coasting to victory, but the visitors reduced the arrears eight minutes before the interval when Olic pounced on a loose ball inside the box to snatch his fourth of the season.
After a low-key start to the second half, Perisic went within a whisker of pulling another back for Hecking’s side with a curling free-kick which missed the angle of post and bar by a hair’s breadth. Olic then thought he had doubled his personal tally for the afternoon when he headed past Ralf Fährmann from close range, but the 35-year-old’s effort was ruled out for offside.
Royal Blues survive
Wolfsburg continued to press forward in search of an elusive second goal and Felipe Santana had to be fully alert to stop another Perisic cross finding Olic inside the six-yard box. With twenty minutes remaining, Hecking replaced Olic with Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner, who had scored twice in both the Wolves’ 5-1 victory over FK Krasnodar in the UEFA Europa League and Denmark's 3-1 win over Serbia during the international break.
Minutes after coming on, the Danish international ran onto a long pass from the back and fired through Fährmann’s legs to set up a nervous finish at the Veltins Arena. Naldo almost grabbed a dramatic equaliser in the dying embers, but the former SV Werder Bremen man’s header bounced off the bar and behind for a goal-kick as die Knappen held on for a valuable victory that brings Wolfsburg back down to earth.
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