Julian Draxler's second-half goal meant VfL Wolfsburg edged Saturday’s headline encounter at home to Bayer 04 Leverkusen to move up to third in the standings with a 2-1 victory.
WOLFSBURG 2–1 LEVERKUSEN
GOALS: 1-0 Bendtner (34’), 1-1 Hernandez (40’), 2-1 Draxler (77’)
The match took a while to get going on a chilly evening at the Volkswagen Arena, with both teams reluctant to commit too many men forward and leave themselves exposed at the back. The dynamic of the game changed after 34 minutes, however, when Nicklas Bendtner put the hosts in front from Vieirinha's pass. The Wolves' lead was shortlived, though, as Javier Hernandez stooped to head Leverkusen level just before half-time, netting his third Bundesliga goal of the season and his sixth in his last four competitive outings.
The Mexican went close to adding another early in the second half after Wolfsburg failed to clear the ball in their box, but his improvised effort from close range was cleared off the line. Former Leverkusen man Andre Schürrle had a glorious chance to grab a winner for the hosts after some delightful build-up play, but he blazed over with only Bernd Leno to beat. Substitute Draxler spared his team-mate's blushes in the closing stages, however, tapping in from Bas Dost's pass to secure all three points.
Man of the match
It was a controlled display throughout from Wolfsburg, and nobody epitomised their discipline and intelligence more than Luiz Gustavo. The Brazilian was quietly efficient in midfield, denying Leverkusen's lively attackers space in which to operate, winning 60 per cent of all his challenges and completing 76 per cent of his passes.
The result cemented Wolfsburg's status as one of the best home teams in the league. Dieter Hecking's men are unbeaten at the Volkswagen Arena this season, winning five and drawing one of their Bundesliga fixtures to date.
- In providing the assist for Bendtner’s opener, Vieirinha was directly involved in a Wolfsburg goal for the first time this season.Hernandez’s goal was the first time Leverkusen have scored from a header in 2015/16.Draxler netted his maiden Bundesliga goal for Wolfsburg.
Wolfsburg: Benaglio – Jung, Naldo, Klose, Rodriguez – Arnold (Draxler 73’), Luiz Gustavo – Vieirinha (Guilavogui 61’), Schürrle, Caligiuri – Bendtner (Dost 74’)
Leverkusen: Leno – Donati, Tah, Papadopoulos (Toprak 76’), Wendell – Kramer, Kampl – Bellarabi, Calhanoglu (Brandt 72’), Mehmedi – Hernandez (Kießling 81’)