After a commanding 4-0 win in Italy last week, Wolfsburg made sure of their progression to the last eight with a frantic high-scoring draw to put an early end to Fiorentina's European dream.
Needing at least four, without reply, Serie A champions Fiorentina hit the ground running, grabbing the first of the evening inside of 90 seconds, Ilaria Mauro the creator and the scorer.
Nibbling the ball away in midfield, Mauro picked out Ellie Brazil on the overlap who dinked in a cross, the back-post header sent the ball back across for Mauro to thump in from two yards.
The ball shot from one end of the pitch to the other, the hosts desperate for a foot hold and yet another goal in the competition, the Italians unfettered in their attack, knowing it was all of nothing from the outset.
As the match wore on the open structure began to close, the Wolves the ones with possession, the visiting Viola chasing the ball and looking to counter as they frustrated the German giants.
Wullaert at the double
Shots on target were few and far between, the hosts wasteful more than anything. Francesca Durante’s gloves dirtied on fifteen minutes, her first testing save not until after the mid-way point in the half.
Despite their possession, Wolfsburg were having little joy in the box until referee Kateryna Monzul pointed to the spot after Alex Popp took a tumble at a corner. Tessa Wullaert’s effort from 12-yards cannoned against the upright before the Belgian international poked home the rebound to restore parity on the night.
Back to needing four, Fiorentina were caught napping as the hosts instantly took the lead on the night, Wullaert found by Anna Blässe to slot home two minutes after her first. The second goal rather fractured the game and it devolved, the visitors frantic and leaving gaps for the depleted hosts who lacked their usual swagger.
The second half started as the first had finished, lacking a clear and defined rhythm, the biting cold and dead-rubber aggregated score doing little to inspire the best in either team.
A double attacking change for hosts sparked the Viola back into life once more, a cutting move finished off by Precellia Rinaldi, the attacker curling the ball beyond Almuth Schult and crashing it against the underside of the bar.
Though Wolfsburg looked to hit back immediately and use the fresh legs of Pernille Harder and Caroline Graham Hansen, their opposition did their best to tighten their defence and repel the first chances.
No rest for the goalkeepers
Another incisive ball cut across the diagonal and set Hansen free, the Norwegian international’s soft shot enough to beat Durante as she committed but it was not powerful enough to slide over the line, Elisa Bartoli the one to clear.
The equaliser served to rip the game open, Fiorentina going for glory on the night, the prestige of being one of the few teams to leave the AOK with a win suddenly dangling ahead of them.
Though as the Italians soon found out, leaving so much space available against Wolfsburg was far from a good idea and the hosts wasted no time in regaining the lead. The three substitutes combined as Hansen sent the ball back to Harder who laid it off for Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir who powered the ball into the back the net with her first touch, from 20-yards.
A heavy clash between Valery Vigilucci and Katharina Baunach left the visitors forced into making a change as Wolfsburg saw the rest of the game out with 10.
Even a man light the hosts still continued to carve out guilt edge chances and for the second time, Hansen was denied by Bartoli on the line.
With the game beginning to devolve into niggly fouls and the football not allowed to flow, the visitors stuck well to restore parity yet again, Brazil’s deft header enough for the Italian’s third as it slipped beyond Schult and into the top corner.
Desperate for a winner, Wolfsburg found no more change out of Durante, the 'keeper beaten three times but not a fourth as the game spluttered to a strange conclusion.
Though one-sided for periods, the game ebbed and flowed as best it could on a pitch that had seen better days. Fiorentina can at least be proud to have gone out fighting and fire more past Wolfsburg than many other teams could usually dream of.
For Wolfsburg, the pressure was off but for the German champions there was nothing to be proud of about conceding three, their shaky defence far from its usual best.