VfL Wolfsburg's hopes of securing European football next season suffered a blow on Saturday evening after a 1-1 draw at home to 1. FSV Mainz 05 left them six points adrift of the qualifying places.
VfL Wolfsburg 1-1 1. FSV Mainz 05
Sent off: Dante (90+1')
Big-name players such as Julian Draxler, Ricardo Rodriguez, Vieirinha and Max Kruse were left out of the Wolfsburg side as head coach Dieter Hecking rotated his squad ahead of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg away to Real Madrid on Tuesday. The home team remained a cohesive unit, however, and had the better of the chances in the first half, with Andre Schürrle in particular a constant menace in the final third.
The Germany international was rewarded for his efforts early in the second period, superbly chipping the ball over Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius after Bruno Henrique played him through. The visitors should have equalised shortly afterwards, only for Koen Casteels to produce a stunning point-blank save to deny Yunus Malli.
Mainz did pull level eventually, however, with substitute Jairo Samperio holding of Christian Träsch in the box before coolly slotting home. Both sides pushed for a winner in the closing period but neither could find a way through, while Dante's late sending off for a second bookable offence compounded a disappointing evening for the hosts.
Man of the match
This was without doubt one of Schürrle's best performances in a Wolfsburg shirt: the Germany international was tireless throughout and expertly spearheaded their attacks, firing off seven shots on goal and completing 35 sprints.
After both Hertha Berlin and Borussia Mönchengladbach dropped points this weekend, Wolfsburg will be disappointed not to have made up ground in the race for European places by beating a direct rival for a top-seven berth.
- Dost made his first competitive appearance in 2016; his last outing before sustaining a foot injury was on 19 December 2015.Jairo has scored all seven of his Bundesliga goals this term away from home.Vieirinha made his 100th Bundesliga appearance for the Wolves in this match.
Wolfsburg: Casteels – Träsch, Naldo (c), Dante, Schäfer (Rodriguez 78')– Guilavogui, Gustavo – Bruno Henrique, Arnold (Kruse 66'), Schürrle – Dost (Vieirinha 71')
Coach: Dieter Hecking
Mainz: Karius – Brosinski, Bell, Balogun, Donati – Baumgartlinger (c), Latza – Clemens (Onisiwo 87'), Malli (Frei 90'), De Blasis (Jairo 61') – Cordoba
Coach: Martin Schmidt