Wolfsburg - VfL Wolfsburg took a commanding step to the quarter-finals of this season's UEFA Europa League after a convincing 3-1 win in the first leg of their last-16 tie against FC Internazionale Milano.

The Wolves got off to a nightmare start when Rodrigo Palacio punished a defensive error to score an important away goal for the Italians, but a Naldo header and a brace from Kevin de Bruyne gives the Wolves a deserved two-goal cushion to take into next Thursday's second leg.

Palacio strikes, Naldo levels


Wolfsburg had failed to concede in any of their last three Europa League games coming into the game, but that statistic was wiped out inside six minutes when Mauro Icardi seized onto Andre Schürrle's wayward pass and played in Palacio, with the Argentine international keeping his cool to fire through Diego Benaglio's legs.

The early goal was a blow for Dieter Hecking's men and Inter looked to seize on the hosts' nerves, with former FC Bayern München winger Xherdan Shaqiri a constant threat. Gradually the Wolves gained a foothold in the match, though, and they were level when Naldo crashed in a header from a De Bruyne corner.

King Kev


Inter appeared to tire after the break and Wolfsburg capitalised, with De Bruyne once again their talisman. The Belgian had had an indifferent first half but he made amends with a calm finish to make it 2-1 after Vieirinha had intercepted a wayward pass from Inter goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo.

With the game being played almost entirely in the away team's half, the Lower Saxons found the third goal their dominance warranted when De Bruyne curled a low free-kick into the corner. The 23-year-old might have had a hat-trick, while Daniel Caligiuri also curled a shot wide of the post as a fourth goal eluded them, but Hecking's team will be confident of defending their lead at the San Siro on 19 April.

Line-ups:

Wolfsburg: Benaglio - Vieirinha (Perisic, 87’), Naldo, Knoche, Rodriguez - Luiz Gustavo, Guilavogui - Caligiuri, De Bruyne, Schürrle (Träsch, 46’) - Dost (Bendtner, 70’)

Inter: Carrizo - d'Ambrosio, Juan Jesus, Ranocchia, Santon (Kuzmanovic, 83’) - Medel, Guarin, Hernanes (Vidic, 58’) - Shaqiri (Kovacic, 83’) - Palacio, Icardi

Goals: 0-1 Palacio (6’), 1-1 Naldo (28’), 2-1 De Bruyne (63’), 3-1 De Bruyne (76’)