Wolfsburg - VfL Wolfsburg ended 2014 on a winning note after coming from behind to seal a hard-earned 2-1 win over 1. FC Köln.
Bas Dost and Naldo scored the goals for the hosts after Köln had taken a shock lead through Dominic Maroh in the 11th minute. A tenth win of the season sees the 2009 Bundesliga champions go into the winter break on a club record 34 points and in second place behind leaders FC Bayern München.
Boosted by a run of five competitive games without defeat, Wolfsburg started confidently, dominating possession against a deep-lying visiting side. It was Köln who were presented with the first chance of the game, however, Anthony Ujah seeing a shot bounce off a Wolves defender and over the bar. They didn’t have to wait long for an opener, as Maroh showed deftness of touch to control Daniel Halfar's brilliant chipped assist and fire a fierce half volley into the near corner.
Wolfsburg reacted well to the early setback, Vieirinha sending an effort wide just a minute before Dost rose highest to glance home Sebastian Jung's pin-point cross with an excellent header. The Dutchman could have added a second shortly afterwards, but Timo Horn in the Köln goal denied him with a smart stop.
The guests were largely playing in their own half but they retained a threat on the break, with Halfar looking particularly lively on his first start since Matchday 10. The diminutive left-footer initiated several counter-attacks and came close to restoring Köln's lead shortly before the break, looping a volley onto the top of the crossbar.
Wolfsburg had enjoyed almost 65 per cent possession in the first half, and while they continued to dominate the ball after interval, it was the visitors that again appeared the more enterprising side immediately after the restart. A last-minute block was needed to deny substitute Simon Zoller as he ran through on goal, while Halfar again shot off target from distance.
Naldo to the rescue
With the hosts apparently lacking the creativity necessary to get past the Köln defence, Wolves coach Dieter Hecking threw on midfielders Luiz Gustavo, Maximilian Arnold and Daniel Caligiuri around the hour mark. Clear-cut goalscoring chances remained at a premium for the Lower Saxony side, though, with Naldo's weak attempt from range a sign of their growing frustration.
The naturalised German has long had a reputation for popping up with goals since arriving in the Bundesliga nine years ago, though, and he was at it again twelve minutes from time. He met Kevin De Bruyne's corner with a trademark late run to send a bullet header into the corner for his fifth goal of the season, giving Hecking's men another three points to close out the year.
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