Wolfsburg - VfL Wolfsburg opened up a 12-point cushion over fourth-placed FC Schalke 04 with Bas Dost their hero once again in a 2-1 win over Hertha Berlin in the final match of Matchday 22.
Dost bright and early
The Dutch forward moved onto nine goals in the last five games with a brace, either side of Julian Schieber's equaliser at the Volkswagen-Arena, to earn the Wolves all three points and a large chunk of breathing space over the chasing pack, and keep his side within eight points of Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern München.
Wolfsburg did not need long to get their engines warmed up with a good 60 per cent of possession in the opening 15 minutes, spreading the ball from left to right and looking for a gap to open up in the Hertha rearguard. That gap did not really arrive, so Vieirinha created one himself by lifting his pass over the top to Andre Schürrle, whose nod on to Dost was dispatched by the Dutchman for his eighth goal in the second half of the season.
Having seen how creativity could carve up even the densest of defences, with Hertha packing men behind the ball, Wolfsburg stepped up a gear, continuously passing their way towards the visitors' goal. Vieirinha was at the heart of most the home side's promising action, but clear-cut goalscoring opportunities remained difficult to come by.
Hertha weren't without their chances, however, trying to beat their opponents on the break. Valentin Stocker got in around the back of Sebastian Jung half an hour into the encounter, and his delivery was met by Schieber with a diving header and into the back of the net from six yards out. Jung made amends by setting up Schürrle a little later, who shot wide as he slipped, but the Wolves had been knocked out of their rhythm.
That also proved to be Jung's last involvement as he was replaced by Maximilian Arnold at the start of the second half, and the hosts once again started to chip away at the Hertha rearguard, Kevin De Bruyne finding a way through with a shot which was no trouble for Thomas Kraft. Hertha were now giving as good as they were getting, though, and Ricardo Rodriguez had to scramble back to clear behind ahead of Per Skjelbred.
Dost at the double
Wolfsburg slowly cranked thing up again and the same combination which supplied the first goal almost added a second, in reverse order. Dost's header teed up Schürrle, who was left waiting for his first goal for Wolfsburg as his shot missed the target.
The hosts were getting closer, though, and Luiz Gustavo went close with a free-kick which beat Kraft but came back off the right-hand post, the rebound arriving at the feet of Dost, the 25-year-old netting his second of the night. Schürrle tried to add a third before Dost was given a standing ovation when replaced by Nicklas Bendtner having once again inspired Wolfsburg to victory.
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