Matthew Marshall, BayArena – Florian Kohfeldt got off to a winning start as Wolfsburg manager, his new side beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 at the BayArena. Two half time substitutes instigated quick fire goals to Lukas Nmecha and Maximilian Arnold, the Wolves controlling the match and cruising to the finish line.
It was an unhappy birthday for Gerardo Seoane who is now searching hard for answers. The discontent from the home crowd was clear after the final whistle, Leverkusen unable to register a shot on target in a third successive home defeat.
Three minute blitz
The first half was a forgettable affair but the match came to life after the break. Florian Kohfeldt introduced Paulo Otávio and Dodi Lukébakio with both players instrumental in orchestrating the breakthroughs.
Lukabakio found space on the left wing in the 48th minute, beating Jonathan Tah and Exequiel Palacios before his cross was deflected into the path of Lukas Nmecha who beat Lukás Hrádecky from close range.
Three minutes later Wolfsburg extended their lead with Otávio next to break down the left channel. Nmecha’s shot was saved and Yannick Gerhardt’s effort was blocked, but Maximilian Arnold made no mistake as he smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
Nmecha had a great chance to extend the lead minutes later, Leverkusen’s frustration boiling over as Florian Wirtz was booked for dissent.
Not happening for the hosts
Gerardo Seoane brought on Paulinho, Robert Andrich and Nadiem Amiri, but the most Leverkusen could manage was Jonathan Tah firing Kerem Demirbay’s free kick over the bar.
Exequiel Palacios burst through from midfield and chose to pass instead of shoot which further irritated an impatient home crowd.
Bayer Leverkusen were slow, predictable, lacking cohesion in the attacking third and unable to test Koen Casteels. Paulinho produced a heavy tough after getting behind Wolfsburg’s defence the final ball was continually failing to find its intended target.
Lucas Alario headed narrowly wide before winning a penalty deep into added time. In a finale fitting their performance, the Argentine stepped up and saw his weak effort saved by Casteels.
Kohfeldt claims the credit
Florian Kohfeldt couldn’t have asked for much more in his first game in charge of Wolfsburg. His second half substitutions made key contributions and they were largely untroubled throughout.
Despite missing Jérôme Roussillon, Xaver Schlager, Luca Waldschmidt and Wout Weghorst, the Wolves were defensively solid and nullified the threats produced by the home side.
The main tactical switch saw Josuha Guilavogui playing in the heart of a back three flanked by Maxence Lacroix and John Brooks. Nmecha impressed up front and is showing that he can lead the line in Weghorst’s absence.
Seoane suddenly struggling
Bayer Leverkusen were flying high after registering five consecutive victories, but the convincing 5-1 defeat against Bayern Munich might have inflicted some psychological damage that they haven’t shaken.
Seoane was missing some important players with Moussa Diaby suspended alongside injuries to Charles Aránguiz, Karim Bellarabi and Patrik Schick, but he would have hoped for a better performance, especially after the disappointment of being dumped out of the DFB-Pokal by Karlsruhe.
During the week Seoane said he understood the criticism, saying his side were in a “goal crisis” and had to “overcome such difficulties together.” There was little evidence of that on display as they failed to create a single shot on target.