Wolfsburg - VfL Wolfsburg pulled away from the pack chasing FC Bayern München at the top of the Bundesliga with a 1-0 win over fifth-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday.
Robin Knoche scored the only goal of the game after just 12 minutes to earn the Wolves the spoils, giving them a three-point cushion over third-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen and extending their advantage over Gladbach to six points, while cutting Bayern's lead at the top back down to seven. For Lucien Favre's Foals, the defeat was their third in a row in the league since seeing their 18-game unbeaten record come to an end.
Both sides seemed to be sizing each other up in the early stages of the game with the tiredness from their respective UEFA Europa League games on Thursday night leaving them both with slightly heavy legs. The home side nevertheless looked the fresher and they took the lead when Knoche bundled the ball home after Yann Sommer failed to hold a Marcel Schäfer cross.
Gladbach responded with Havard Nordtveit's free-kick deflected behind and, from the corner, Roel Brouwers tested Diego Benaglio's alertness with a near-post volley. The Swiss goalkeeper, who has ceded his national team number one jersey to the man stood at the opposite end of the field, Yann Sommer, then made an even better reflex stop to deny Patrick Herrmann as the Foals picked up a canter.
The offside flag was raised both to deny Andre Hahn a chance at one end and Ivica Olic at the other as the game opened up with both sides creating chances and showing why they are challenging at the business end of the Bundesliga. Kevin De Bruyne has been in fine form this season and he almost doubled the lead, powering into the area only to see his shot saved early in the second half.
The Belgian then had a goal disallowed as he was in an offside position when Ivan Perisic's shot was fumbled out by Sommer. Vieirinha and Perisic both flashed the ball dangerously across the face of goal as the hosts gradually started to regain the initiative after a brief spell of inertia, but with Gladbach still trailing and forced to attack, there were inevitably gaps to exploit.
Best of the rest
De Bruyne continued his personal quest for a goal with a long-range effort that was deflected behind for a corner. Gladbach substitute Thorgan Hazard knew he was in the game immediately when he was flattened by Benaglio as he tried to reach Raffael's cross, but that seemed about as close as Gladbach were going to come to levelling.
Dieter Hecking will be delighted that the result makes his Wolves side the best of the rest, behind Bayern but his counterpart Lucien Favre has work to do as the Foals' recent slump continues.
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