Bayer Leverkusen left Wolfsburg clinging on just above the bottom three on goal difference with a 2-1 win at the Volkswagen Arena on Saturday.
Wolfsburg 1-2 Leverkusen
Only 19 seconds were on the clock when Lars Bender flashed a shot agonisingly wide of the far post. Nineteen minutes were on the clock, meanwhile, when Lucas Alario flicked a header wide as Leverkusen did all of the running. Maximilian Arnold's foul on Kai Havertz gifted Leverkusen the chance to take the lead after half an hour, and Alario sent Koen Casteels the wrong way from the penalty spot to give the guests a long-overdue advantage.
It was a lead Leverkusen looked to preserve in the second half as they showed a much reduced attacking intent. Wolfsburg tried to find a route back into the game, with Arnold keen to make amends for his first-half mistake, but neither he nor the creative Daniel Didavi were able to craft a way through. Julian Brandt was sent on to give Leverkusen's attack more impetus and he supplied a sublime dinked finish to double Leverkusen's lead. Their joy was short-lived, though, with Admir Mehmedi curling in his third goal of the season just moments after the restart. Wolfsburg's hope of finding an equaliser were dashed in stoppage time, however, when William was sent off.
- Only Cologne, Hamburg, Werder Bremen, Stuttgart and Freiburg have scored fewer Bundesliga goals than Wolfsburg (28) this term.Labbadia's predecessors Andries Jonker and Martin Schmidt both drew their first games in charge of the Wolves 1-1. Jonker won his second; Schmidt drew his, Labbadia has lost his.Labbadia coached Leverkusen in 2008/09, overseeing a ninth-placed Bundesliga finish and taking the club to the DFB Cup final.Admir Mehmedi produced seven goals and 11 assists in 62 Bundesliga appearances for Leverkusen, before joining Wolfsburg during the winter break.Only Bayern Munich (55) and Borussia Dortmund (49) have scored more Bundesliga goals than Leverkusen (45) so far this season.Alario took – and converted – his first penalty in the Bundesliga.Kießling came on to make his 400th Bundesliga appearance.
Wolfsburg: Casteels - Verhaegh (c), Knoche, Bruma, William - Guilavogui, Arnold (Bazoer 82') – Brekalo (Malli 66'), Mehmedi, Didavi – Origi (Dimata 72')
Unused subs: Grün, Steffen, Rexhbecaj, Jaeckel
Absentees: Brooks (knee), Blaszczykowski (back), Camacho (ankle), Gerhardt (ankle), Jung (thigh), Tisserand (hamstring), Uduokhai (knee)
Coach: Bruno Labbadia
Leverkusen: Leno (c) – L. Bender, Tah, S. Bender (Jedvaj 46'), Wendell – Baumgartlinger (Kießling 88') – Havertz, Aranguiz – Alario, Volland, Bellarabi (Brandt 67')
Unused subs: Özcan, Henrichs, Bailey, Pohjanpalo
Absentees: Kohr, Retsos (both one-match bans)
Coach: Heiko Herrlich
Watch: Alario delighted with "big win at big team"