Matthew Marshall, Volkswagen Arena – Lille beat Wolfsburg 3-1 at Volkswagen Arena to take top spot in Group G to end the Wolves’ European adventure. Ivo Grbic was rarely tested as the visitors established a 3-0 lead through Burak Yilmaz, Jonathan David and Angel Gomes.
Renato Steffen scored a late consolation, but it was too little too late with Wolfsburg slumping to a fourth straight defeat. Florian Kohfeldt’s positive start at his new club is now a distant memory.
Pre-match plans out the window
Florian Kohfeldt commented about the threat of Lille’s counter attacks in the pre-match press conference. His players clearly didn’t get the message as they fell behind in the 11th minute.
The goal came from a Wolfsburg corner, Lille breaking clear through Jonathan Ikoné, his cross picking out Burak Yilmaz who made no mistake.
Wolfsburg’s central defenders were looking nervous under pressure as Sebastiaan Bornauw was booked for a cheap foul on Renato Sanches.
Crosses the only hope
Wout Weghorst and Maxence Lacroix headed over the bar before Weghorst headed Kevin Mbabu’s cross wide.
All of Wolfsburg’s chances were coming down the right wing through crosses or corners. Their best chance came before the break when Weghorst’s headed effort was cleared off the line by Reinildo.
Second half switch
Kohfeldt made a change at the break with Yannick Gerhardt replaced by Dodi Lukebakio.
Jonathan Ikoné’s deflected shot was tipped over the bar by Koen Casteels before Wolfsburg exerted a sustained period of pressure.
The Wolves were making all the running and won a succession of corners before Ridle Baku and Jerome Roussillon replaced Kevin Mbabu and Paulo Otavio.
Angel Gomes ends the contest
Jocelyn Gourvennec made his first change in the 68th minute when Angel Gomes replaced Gabriel Gudmundsson. The 21-year-old would soon play his part in ending the contest.
Wolfsburg completely forgot about Jonathan David, Gomes releasing the Canadian striker who had time to pick his spot and make it 2-0.
The changes kept coming with Josuha Guilavogui and Gian-Luca Waldschmidt making way for Felix Nmecha and Renato Steffen. Amadou Onana replaced Burak Yilmaz for the visitors
In the 78th minute minute it was 3-0. Roussillon lost possession, Onana and Ikoné combining to find Gomes who squeezed his shot under Casteels.
Ikoné went on another solo run with his shot saved and David’s follow up deflected wide.
Renato Steffen scored a late consolation after Renato Sanches inexplicably gave the ball away in Lille’s 18-yard box, but it was too little, too late as Wolfsburg finished last in Group G.
The French champions took advantage of Wolfsburg’s defensive deficiencies with the early goal putting them in complete control.
Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side did well enough to minimise the aerial threat of Wout Weghorst and fully deserved the victory.
Jonathan Ikoné was a real handful on the right wing and an easy choice for man of the match.
Honeymoon is over
Florian Kohfeldt couldn’t have had a better start after replacing Mark van Bommel. A 2-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen, 2-1 win against Salzburg and 1-0 win against Augsburg meant confidence was high.
That confidence has completely evaporated after four consecutive defeats. It hasn’t even been close either; 2-0 at Sevilla, 3-1 against Borussia Dortmund, 3-0 at Mainz and 3-1 against Lille.
Aerial crosses aimed at Wout Weghorst appears to be their primary objective and the only way to create chances. Lukas Nmecha’s absence was a blow, but there are bigger problems in defence.
Maxence Lacroix and Sebastiaan Bornauw looked like liabilities for the full 90 minutes and Josuha Guilavogui offered little protection.
Kohfeldt needs to get back to basics, concentrate on being hard to break down and keeping clean sheets. Wolfsburg have now conceded 13 goals in their last five games, and the former Werder Bremen boss doesn’t appear to have any answers.