Wednesday, December 9, 2015 12:18 am
Wolfsburg are in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 for the first time after a dramatic victory against Manchester United eliminated the three-time winners.
Amid the backdrop of a breathtaking atmosphere, the game burst into life early on, André Schürrle racing onto Max Kruse’s glancing header before firing over from close range. The hosts were quickly left to rue that miss as United produced a probing passing move, Daley Blind and Juan Mata combining to find Anthony Martial, and the confident finish clipped goalkeeper Diego Benaglio on the way in.
The Wolves produced an immediate answer, defender Naldo brilliantly hooking in Ricardo Rodríguez’s arcing free-kick. Louis van Gaal’s men continued to commit players forward and were only denied an equaliser by a brilliant Benaglio save from Marouane Fellaini’s point-blank header.
Home coach Dieter Hecking had warned the visitors to beware Wolfsburg’s creative players, and his team’s spectacular second backed up those words. A slick counterattacking move ended with a quick exchange of passes between Julian Draxler and Max Kruse, the former teeing up full-back Vieirinha for a tap-in. Soon afterwards, Draxler sent a shot goalwards which David de Gea beat away to safety.
Both goalkeepers were kept busy after the restart. Benaglio parried Memphis Depay’s acrobatic effort before his opposite number made three stops in quick succession to deny Schürrle, twice, and then Maximilian Arnold. Wolfsburg’s Max Kruse subsequently blasted wide while Memphis Depay’s free-kick whispered past a post at the other end.
With the game in its closing stages, Joshua Guilavogui headed past his own goalkeeper while attempting to clear Fellaini’s header. Then United looked like they were going through, instead, two minutes later Naldo headed in Marcel Schäfer’s corner and it was Wolfsburg who were left celebrating.
Louis Van Gaal’s verdict: “I think it is a crazy match. We scored the goals, then they are cancelling [out our] goals. Still we had chances, but they have also chances. When we scored, they scored after two minutes again. Also the winning goal was two minutes after we had equalised, so we had the chance to win I think. We fought for the win, but with ten men at the end [after injuries] we couldn’t do more than what we have done.”
*Reported by uefa.com