Wolves in waves
Tessa Wullaert drew the first save of the game from Britta Elsert Gynning, her looped header threatening to dip in just under the bar but the 20 year-old 'keeper was a match to the effort. Needing five unanswered goals to progress the visitors saw little of the ball in the opening exchanges although their best chance came nine minutes in when Mimmi Larsson broke down the right, cutting through the defence to fire low at the far side of the goal. With Almuth Schult already well off of her line the number one could only watch and will the ball to slip just wide; as it did.
With so many natural attackers on the pitch, Wolfsburg always looked dangerous going forward and another chance quickly came Wullaert’s way, the rangy Belgian’s header just the wrong side of the post. Another chance for the hosts saw the first corner of the game, Vanessa Bernuer’s deflected shot another to just slide past the outside of the post.
A full-blooded body-block from Louise Quinn all that could deny Julia Simic from very close range, the chances coming thick and fast for the hosts, the quarter finals calling their name.
20 minutes in and the two teams were still locked at 0-0, Babet Peter the next to go close, her header at a corner looping over the bar, Gynning claiming everything else lofted into the box. With Eskilstuna defending resolutely – but hopelessly outnumbered in attack – chances were suddenly at a premium, Alexandra Popp’s back post header (over) the first shot the hosts had had in over ten minutes but the deadlock was soon broken.
As a corner pin-balled around the box both sets of fans nervously watched as it pinged from one set of feet to another, Lara Dickenmann’s first time effort arrowed past Gynning and sent the net shuddering as the home fans roared in appreciation. Consistently effervescent in attack in was no surprise to see the Swiss pro in the goals although having been started at full-back had certainly limited her contributions in the game.
The second-half was slow to get going, the half-time break only confirming what both knew last week; Wolfsburg were through and the Swedes were playing for pride and a result on the night.
A few half-chances came the way of the visitors early in the half but they sagged against the numbers Wolfsburg could put back, build-up rushed for fear of losing possession, Their one tactic in the first-half had been send it long and let Larsson run at Nila Fischer, unsurprisingly it didn’t pay off and with nothing to lose it was odd that they didn’t start committing more forward after the break.
In one of the more pleasing attacks of the night the hosts added their second, Popp’s headed flick was enough to set Babet Peter racing away on the overlap, her neat cross found Wullaert at the back post, her ball across thumped into the net from a yard out by Zsanett Jakabfi.
In a season that’s so frequently been average for Wolfsburg the move followed, Peter added a much needed dimension and the team worked together; when the Wolves play that way there’s little anyone can do to stop them but they haven’t always delivered the goods this year.
As the game wore on more and more gaps started appearing in the away defence, half-chances gifted to the hosts but nothing they could take, the visitors just about doing enough to keep this scoreline respectable. But there was nothing that could be done about Bernauer’s bullet header, the midfielder ghosting in the box at a corner and rising well to power her shot past the helpless 'keeper.
3-0 on the night not the biggest margin but still little to keep the Swedes warm in Wolfsburg, their journey home a long one on the wrong end of an 8-1 aggregated score. Bigger and better opposition surely awaiting the Germans in the last eight.