Wolfsburg – VfL Wolfsburg were left frustrated in their pursuit of automatic qualification for the UEFA Champions League after throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to relegation-threatened Hannover 96.
First half strikes from Bas Dost and Ivan Perisic looked to have put the Wolves on course for victory, but Jimmy Briand and Salif Sane were on target early in the second period to salvage a much-needed point for the guests.
The odds were stacked against the visitors going into this game: Michael Frontzeck’s men were fourth bottom of the table, without a win in 2015 and deprived of suspended talisman Lars Stindl, but they nevertheless began extremely brightly and forced Wolfsburg deep into their own half early on.
Indeed, Hannover could have gone in front as early as the fifth minute when Joselu met a right-wing cross at the near post, only for Diego Benaglio to pull off a stunning reflex save to tip it over. The Wolves needed a while longer for their first sight of goal, but it was worth the wait as Kevin De Bruyne and Andre Schürrle exchanged passes on the edge of the box before the latter took aim, but his effort was blocked.
Hannover fight back
Once the hosts got into their stride, however, it was one-way traffic towards Ron-Robert Zieler in the Hannover goal. The Wolves’ pressure soon took its toll too, as De Bruyne curled a teasing ball across the face of goal from the right, leaving Dost with a simple volley at the back post. They continued to attack and were rewarded on the stroke of half-time when Perisic cut in from the right and unleashed an unstoppable left-footed drive into the top corner.
Aware that only a victory would do for the guests, Frontzeck reacted during the break by bringing on two attackers in Kenan Karaman and Briand. The substitutions paid instant dividends as Briand beat Benaglio to a cross within seconds of the restart to reduce the deficit. Hannover’s equaliser came in spectacular fashion, Sane’s acrobatic overhead kick from ten yards out leaving Benaglio wrong-footed.
Prib goes close
Affronted at losing what was a seemingly comfortable two-goal lead, Dieter Hecking’s charges began playing with greater urgency and wasted little time in asserting their dominance once more. Ricardo Rodriguez saw his half-volley bounce just over before De Bruyne dragged a shot wide of the post, but Hannover remained dangerous, especially with Briand’s pace on the counterattack.
The visitors had the best chance to snatch a late winner when Hiroshi Kiyotake's through-ball put Edgar Prib in on goal, but the midfielder was unable to get the better of Benaglio, who deflected his shot out for a corner. The draw was ultimately of little use to either side, with Wolfsburg still not assured of automatic Champions League qualification and Hannover desperate to avoid the drop.
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