Wolfsburg took a big step towards another season of Bundesliga football after beating Bundesliga 2 club Holstein Kiel 3-1 in the home leg of their relegation play-off, with Liverpool loanee Divock Origi scoring one and setting up another at the Volkswagen Arena.
Wolfsburg did all the running in the early stages, with their persistence paying off as early as the 13th minute. Kiel goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm kept out Renato Steffen following a mazy run from Josip Brekalo, but the former Wolves youth player was powerless to prevent Origi from sliding in the loose ball. William tested Kronholm once again, before Kiel levelled against the run of play thanks to a piece of Dominick Drexler brilliance. After skinning two Wolfsburg defenders on the by-line, the Kiel man crossed low for Kingsley Schindler to tuck home from six yards. Parity lasted just six minutes, however, as Brekalo met Origi's knockdown with a thunderous 18-yard strike that Kronholm could only help into the net.
The chances continue to flow after the restart as Drexler shot straight at Koen Casteels and Steffen tested Kronholm, but it was Wolfsburg who forged even further ahead with the next attempt. Origi held off three Kiel challenges, before sliding in Yunus Malli, who rounded the goalkeeper and tapped into an empty goal. Steffen drew a save from Kronholm and fired wide, but Kiel continued to carve out presentable opportunities of their own through substitutes Alexander Mühling and Aaron Seydel. Kiel leading scorer Marvin Ducksch missed a sitter by his 18-goal standards as the 2008/09 Bundesliga champions preserved a two-goal cushion that could prove decisive in Monday's second leg.
- Origi hadn't scored for 12 matches prior to last weekend's win over Cologne. The Belgian has now netted two in as many games.
- Brekalo has scored three goals in his last four competitive outings.
- Kiel's Seydel is on loan from Bundesliga club Mainz. The striker scored on his top-flight debut in a game against Hertha Berlin on 27 November 2016.
- The Bundesliga club has prevailed in 14 of the 19 relegation play-offs, including seven of the last eight.
- Wolfsburg also contested the play-off last season against Braunschweig, winning both legs 1-0.
- Kiel are looking to gain promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time. They were only promoted from the third division last season.
Wolfsburg: Casteels – William, Brooks, Knoche, Uduokhai – Guilavogui, Arnold (c) – Brekalo, Malli (Camacho 86'), Steffen (Blaszczykowski 81') – Origi (Dimata 90+1')
Unused subs: Grün, Bruma, Gerhardt, Rexhbecaj
Absentees: Tisserand (thigh), Bazoer (knee), Osimhen (shoulder), Mehmedi (foot), Verhaegh (head), Didavi (Achilles)
Coach: Bruno Labbadia
Kiel: Kronholm - Herrmann, Schmidt, Czichos (c), Van den Bergh - Kinsombi - Schindler, Peitz (Mühling 62') , Drexler, Lewerenz (Seydel 62') - Ducksch
Unused subs: Kruse, Heidinger, Hoheneder, Lenz, Weilandt
Coach: Markus Anfang
Watch: Divock Origi reflects on Wolfsburg's win