VfL Wolfsburg held RB Leipzig to a draw in the opening match of the Bundesliga’s Englishe Woche, a tenth league draw of the season for the Wolves.
An early penalty, won by Mario Gómez, was converted by Paul Verhaegh, however Leipzig dominated much of the play, eventually equalising through Marcel Halstenberg early in the second half.
It became a third game without a win for Leipzig, but they were lucky it wasn’t worse, with Divock Origi guilty of an awful miss and Dayot Upamecano seeing red late on.
Verhaegh scores from spot, Leipzig fail to make strides in response
Wolfsburg have found some form at home in recent weeks, scoring three goals in each of their last three matches at the Volkswagen Arena, including victories over SC Freiburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach. They had just one alteration from their goalless draw at Hamburger SV at the weekend, with Yannick Gerhardt in for Origi. There were five changes for Leipzig from their game against 1. FSV Mainz 05, with Upamecano, Ibrahima Konaté, Marcel Halstenberg, Naby Keïta and Bruma all returning.
Leipzig, looking to put some pressure on leaders Bayern Munich, had a chance to take the lead in an otherwise physical start to the game. The ball fell to Timo Werner on the right side of the back, but Koen Casteels pushed away his shot.
Wolfsburg were eventually able to get forward themselves, with Joshua Guilavogui playing the ball into the box. It fell to Gómez, but a foul by Konaté brought him down. Although Gómez had gone down rather easily, referee Guido Winkmann, probably correctly, pointed to the spot. Verhaegh scored his first goal for the club with the penalty, sending Peter Gulácsi the wrong way.
The Wolves rarely threatened after that though with the visitors dominating the play. They struggled to test Casteels though. A ball into the box from Stefan Ilsanker allowed Luaks Klostermann to try to find Werner in the middle, but John Anthony Brooks intercepted the pass. That was typical of the first half, with little coming off for Leipzig, most balls into the box being blocked, Brooks the man doing the cleaning up for Wolfsburg as often as anyone.
Rare Halstenberg goal only enough for a point for Leipzig
Little changed initially after the break, but eventually Leipzig found a way through. Ilsanker’s pass found its way to Yussuf Poulsen, who after holding it up saw Halstenberg in space. He had to slide in to reach the ball but reach it he did. His last goal had come against SV Sandhausen in the 2. Bundesliga two years ago.
Apart from winning the penalty in the first half, Gómez had been pretty anonymous for the Wolves, but before making way for Origi he came very close to restoring his side’s advantage. Supplied by Gerhardt, he took aim for the near top corner of the goal, with his shot ending up just a few inches above the bar.
The match soon again lapsed into the same pattern, although Wolfsburg were having as much frustration going forward as Leipzig. With just over ten minutes to go though, they had a wave of chances, the best of which fell to Origi. A cross from William deflected off Konaté past Gulácsi. The Belgian striker had half an empty to aim out, but conspired to put it over. After one of the misses of the season, he did at least test Gulácsi with his next effort, but it was too tight an angle and the goalkeeper saved it.
The visitors would finish the game with ten men, as Upamecano, booked earlier in the half, saw a second yellow card for what Winkmann adjudged to be an elbow into the face of substitute Victor Osimhen. Wolfsburg nearly scrambled the ball into the net from the resulting free-kick, with Origi, Gerhardt and Guilavogui all having cracks, however Leipzig survived.
Tuesday’s other Bundesliga results
1. FSV Mainz 05 0-2 Borussia Dortmund (0-1, Sokratis 55’; 0-2, Kagawa 89’)
Hamburger SV 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt (1-0, Papadopoulos 9'; 1-1, Wolf 16'; 1-2, Gacinovic 24')
SC Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach (0-1, Petersen 20' (P))