Substitute Andre Schürrle was influential as VfL Wolfsburg edged closer to qualifying from UEFA Champions League Group B with a crucial victory over PFC CSKA Moskva on Wednesday night.
Goals: 0-1 Akinfeev (o.g. 67'), 0-2 Schürrle (88')
Given both sides’ pre-match need for three points to ease a potential passage into the knockout stages, it was an oddly restrained start in the Russian capital. Wolfsburg frontman Bas Dost came closest early on when he headed wide from Christian Träsch’s pinpoint cross, but otherwise there was little to separate the sides. The visitors’ domination of possession against the passive hosts eventually turned into chances as the interval approached, however, although neither Dost nor Max Kruse were able to find a way past Igor Akinfeev, leaving the sides level at the break.
The hosts emerged stronger after the restart, testing Diego Benaglio in the Wolves’ goal on several occasions. Georgi Milanov drew a good save from the Swiss stopper before Zoran Tosic hit the post with a brilliant effort in the 62nd minute. Five minutes later, though, and Dieter Hecking’s side were in the lead, Schürrle’s shot helped in by a squirming Akinfeev. The Russian side were passive in response to going behind and the game was up when the FIFA World Cup winner scored his side’s second goal three minutes from time, a fabulous volleyed finish from the edge of the box to seal all three points for Wolfsburg, who only need a point from their final group game to qualify for the last 16.
Man of the match
Although only on the field for half an hour, Schürrle’s impact was vital to Wolfsburg’s now very realistic hopes of progression from a tight Group B. The Germany international refused to give up, typified by the opening goal, and showcased all his class with a brilliant late finish.
The Wolves have struggled on the road this season, only picking up one win in the Bundesliga so far. This victory at the Arena Khimki not only gives Hecking's men an excellent chance of qualifying for the round of 16, but could also prove a timely shot in the arm ahead of a visit to FC Augsburg this weekend.
- His late strike lifted Schürrle to four career Champions League goals.
- Wolfsburg enjoyed more possession and completed more passes than their hosts.
- The Wolves now boast nine points in Group B and welcome Manchester United FC on Matchday 6.
CSKA: Akinfeev (c.) - Fernandes, Ignashevich (Vasin, 46’), A Berezutski, Nababkin (Natcho, 75’) - Wernbloom, Tosic, Dzagoev (Panchenko, 90’), Milanov - Musa, Doumbia
Wolfsburg: Benaglio (c.) - Schäfer, Dante, Naldo, Träsch - Guilavogui, Arnold – Caligiuri (Schürrle, 61'), Vieirinha – Kruse (Jung, 81’), Dost (Bendtner, 86’)