Lisbon - VfL Wolfsburg reached the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 after a hard-fought 0-0 draw away to Sporting Clube de Portugal sealed a 2-0 aggregate win.

The Wolves had goalkeeper Diego Benaglio to thank for keeping a clean sheet at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, the Swiss goalkeeper denying the hosts on a number of occasions, with Kevin De Bruyne striking the post at the other end.

Benaglio to the rescue


Having won four and drawn one in the Bundesliga in 2015, the in-form visitors started the encounter confidently, although clear-cut goalscoring chances proved difficult to come by for Dieter Hecking’s charges. Indeed, the first real opportunity of the game tell to Sporting, Nani’s first-time volley from the edge of the six-yard box flying wide 17 minutes in.

With Wolfsburg side happy to play on the counter-attack, the hosts upped the pressure as the first half progressed, and they came agonisingly close to taking the lead shortly past the half-hour mark. Christian Träsch did well to clear Tobias Figueiredo’s header off the line with Benaglio between, before the latter kept things at 0-0 with two remarkable saves after efforts from William Carvalho and Junya Tanaka.

De Bruyne hits the post


Sporting also remained in the driving seat after the interval, playing with pace and rhythm in the Portuguese capital, although it was Wolfsburg that had the first chance after the restart, De Bruyne seeing his 15-yard strike hit the inside of the left post after a quick breakaway. The lively Nani could have then broken the deadlock at the other end but Benaglio was again on hand to deny the Manchester United FC loanee with his legs.

With 15 minutes remaining, substitute Daniel Caligiuri’s long-range attempt relieved some of the pressure on the away side's goal, before Hecking's men were denied what appeared to be a clear penalty when Bas Dost was felled by Rui Patricio inside the box with only the goalkeeper to beat. Sporting retained a threat until the end, with Carlos Mane and Carvalho both going close, but Wolfsburg held on to guarantee their progression to the last 16.

Line-ups:

Sporting: Rui Patricio - Cedric, Oliveira, Figueiredo, Silva - Carvalho, Joao Mario, Adrien Silva (Slimani 64’) - Carrillo (Mane 78’), Nani - Tanaka (Tanaka 78’)

Wolfsburg: Benaglio - Träsch, Naldo, Knoche, Rodriguez - Guilavogui, Luiz Gustavo - Vieirinha (Schäfer 76’), De Bruyne, Schürrle (Caligiuri 61’) - Dost