Paderborn - VfL Wolfsburg secured automatic qualification to the UEFA Champions League group stage next season thanks to a comfortable 3-1 victory away to struggling SC Paderborn.

Timm Klose set the visitors on course for the win with a header early in the first half, and a brace from Bas Dost put the result beyond any doubt, rendering Lukas Rupp's late strike as little more than a consolation.

End to end opening


Having slipped down to third in the table for the first time since Matchday 9 following Borussia Mönchengladbach’s win on Saturday, Wolfsburg began energetically and went on the attack immediately. Their game plan was clear: to use the pace and trickery of Ivan Perisic and Daniel Caligiuri on the flanks to get balls into the box for towering striker Dost.

Yet despite dominating early on it was the hosts who had the first clear-cut opening. Moritz Stoppelkamp’s cushioned header from a right-wing cross found Rupp unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, but the midfielder hurried his shot and lashed over with the goal at his mercy. It proved a costly miss as just moments later Wolfsburg took the lead when Klose met a Ricardo Rodriguez corner from the left, guiding a header into the bottom corner past Lukas Kruse.

Dost strikes again


Worse was to come for Paderborn midway through the first half when Perisic wriggled free on the left-hand side of the box, where he was allowed to turn and cross to the back post, where the unmarked Dost was left with a simply volley to double Wolfsburg’s lead. Paderborn couldn’t be faulted for effort, but they failed to create any further chances of note before half-time.

Coach Andre Breitenreiter attempted to address that by bringing on dynamic attacker Suleyman Koc for defender Michael Heinloth in the second period, and the newcomer certainly gave the home side greater thrust and directness going forward. He went close to pulling a goal back in the 57th minute when he latched on to a ball from deep and attempted to lob the onrushing Diego Benaglio, only for his effort to bounce wide.

Champions League beckons


That was as good as it got for Paderborn, however, even though Wolfsburg didn’t have the same purpose and determination they’d had in the first half. At the other end of the field the visitors struggled too, and a header from Naldo that arrowed narrowly over the bar was the best of their opportunities.

As the match entered the closing stages Paderborn brought on two more attackers in Srdjan Lakic and Mahir Saglik, but still they could find no way through. Instead, Wolfsburg killed the game off when Dost rifled again at the back post after Maximilian Arnold’s shot had been saved. Rupp did reduce the arrears late on with a fine strike from the edge of the area, bit it was too little too late for the hosts.

The win took Wolfsburg back into second place, guaranteeing them an automatic berth in the UEFA Champions League group stage next season, and leaving Paderborn second bottom of the table.

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