Naldo's seventh goal of the season earned Wolfsburg a narrow win over fellow DFB Cup finalists Dortmund
Naldo's seventh goal of the season earned Wolfsburg a narrow win over fellow DFB Cup finalists Dortmund

Wolfsburg dent BVB's European hopes with narrow victory

Wolfsburg - VfL Wolfsburg remain in pole position to finish runners-up to champions FC Bayern München after beating fellow DFB Cup finalists Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in a breathless encounter at the Volkswagen Arena.

Frantic opening

In a game billed as a dress rehearsal for the cup final on 30 May, Wolfsburg took the lead after just 41 seconds through Daniel Caligiuri, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalised from the penalty spot soon afterwards. Wolves’ centre-back Naldo scored what turned out to be the winner four minutes after half-time, firing a low shot past Mitchell Langerak after BVB had failed to clear a Kevin De Bruyne corner.

Jürgen Klopp was forced into a late change ahead of kick-off with Mats Hummels, who suffered an injury in the warm-up, replaced by Neven Subotic. There was little the Serbian international could do about the Wolves’ opening goal, however, as De Bruyne’s pinpoint cross found an unmarked Caligiuri, who slotted home from close range to give Dieter Hecking’s side the lead.

Die Schwarz-Gelben weren’t behind for long, though. With just ten minutes on the clock, Kevin Kampl latched onto a through ball into the Wolfsburg box and was brought down by Diego Benaglio, giving the referee little option but to point to the spot. Up stepped Aubameyang, who beat the Swiss international from twelve yards for his 15th league goal of the campaign.

Lucky seven for Naldo

The game continued to ebb and flow as the half wore on, but it was Wolfsburg who had the better of the chances with Ivan Perisic and Bas Dost both going close to putting the Lower Saxons back in front. However, Aubameyang could – and perhaps should – have given BVB the lead before half-time after somehow managing to direct a close-range header wide of the target with the goal gaping.

The frantic nature of the contest showed no sign of abating after the break and only a fine block by Ricardo Rodriguez prevented Aubameyang from directing a shot on target within a minute of the restart. Almost immediately, Wolfsburg won a corner at the other end which the visitors failed to deal with, allowing Naldo to turn the loose ball past Langerak for the centre-back’s seventh strike of the season.

Reus fails to spark revival

Klopp reshuffled his pack with twenty minutes remaining, bringing on Marco Reus and Ciro Immobile for Shinji Kagawa and Kevin Kampl. The move almost paid off as Reus’ lofted free-kick found Aubameyang at the far post, but the 25-year-old’s acrobatic effort was again blocked by the Wolfsburg rearguard.

The return of their talisman Reus seemed momentarily to have breathed new life into BVB, but the late onslaught failed to materialise as the hosts held on for a victory which leaves them two points ahead of third-place Borussia Mönchengladbach going into the final game of the season. Dortmund’s hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League, meanwhile, continue to hang in the balance.

Line-ups and statistics

Matthew Howarth