VfL Wolfsburg needed extra time to get past 1. FC Nürnberg in the last-16 of the DFB-Pokal.
Der Club had looked the brighter side for much of the 90 minutes of normal time, but after Wolfsburg came back strong towards to end, with Mario Gómez and Divock Origi both hitting the post.
Having failed to do so in 90 minutes, the Wolves eventually pulled away, with Ohis Felix Uduokhai and substitute Daniel Didavi scoring the goals.
Der Club more than match for their illustrious opponents
Despite this being their last game before the winter break, Wolfsburg coach Martin Schmidt decided to rotate six from the squad that lost to 1. FC Köln on Saturday, with Koen Casteels Didavi and Origi amongst those rested. Nürnberg, third in the 2. Bundesliga at the halfway stage of the season, brought in Patrick Erras and Eduard Löwen from their weekend draw with another fallen giant, 1. FC Kaiserslautern.
Wolfsburg were without a win in three in the Bundesliga, whilst Der Club have won three of the last five. The home side made the Wolves’ defence look shaky early on, and although an early touch in the box for Mikael Ishak come to nothing, Enrico Valentini did get a low shot away from just outside the box, saved by Max Grün. Wolfsburg were flat, with their only real chance early coming from a set piece, with Maximilian Arnold’s free-kick headed over by the out-of-form Gómez.
The hosts failed to build on their early momentum for some time, although Hanno Behrens had half a shout for penalty ignored. Löwen though then came close to scoring with a good strike just wide of the post, before Kevin Möhwald conspired to miss an excellent close range effort after being found by a clever cross by Behrens, connecting with his shin rather than his foot. Valentini also struck over.
The only other chance of note that the visitors had was a good one. Yunus Malli found Nany Landry Dimata with a perfectly-weighed ball, but the young striker perhaps didn’t have the confidence to bury the shot, with Fabian Bredlow coming out to ensure his side remained on level terms at the break.
Wolfsburg gradually improve as Gómez and Origi hit post
Wolfsburg tried to kick on after the resumption but they were clearly struggling to impose themselves on their lower-league opponents. About as close as they came was when Gómez was able to pull the trigger, but shot his spun so much it looked like it had taken a deflection – it hadn’t and it was only a goal-kick.
Encouraged by Wolfsburg’s struggles, Nürnberg kicked on and came within inches of going ahead. Tim Leibold had a shot saved by Grün, however the ball collided off Behrens and was goal-bound. The Nürnberg skipper rushed to try to make sure it crossed the line, but before it did Marcel Tisserand got back to clear it at the last second. His blushes saved, Grün then made saved from both Edgar Salli and Ishak.
Both strikes would each have two further chances but neither had their shooting boots on. After a poor attempted clearance from Leibold, Gómez struck from a tight angle but only managed to hit the post, before connecting with a cross from an offside position, the shot saved by Bredlow in any case. He was soon replaced by Origi. At the other end Ishak put a Leibold cross wide, having failed to get a proper connection, before he cut in from the left and had his shot deflect over the bar.
The introduction of Origi provided Wolfsburg with more of an impetus, although he came no closer to scoring than the man he replaced – fed by Malli, he initially struggled to stay on his feet, but recovered well enough to beat Bredlow but not the left-hand post, the opposite to the one hit by Gómez. Generally though, the Wolves were applying much more pressure on their hosts in the latter stages however they couldn’t prevent the game going to extra time.
Uduokhai and Didavi break the resistance
Nürnberg threatened from set pieces in the early stages of the additional 30 minutes. A Valentini free-kick led to a big scramble in the Wolfsburg box, with Löwen getting a shot before Ewerton finally screwed it away. From the following corner, Behrens headed over, but they would soon come to regret the chances they hadn’t taken.
Like the chance for their opponents a few minutes earlier it was a scrappy one for Wolfsburg. Didavi crossed the ball in from the left, finding Joshua Guilavogui who chose to head down rather than aim for goal himself. Uduokhai at a couple of cracks at it before poking the ball past Bredlow, his second goal in the competition after scoring in the 1-0 win over Hannover 96 in the last round.
That didn’t completely kill the game off, but Nürnberg didn’t have any clear chances to bring it back level. Eventually Wolfsburg made absolutely sure of the win but an error led to it. Tobias Werner attempted to head clear a Tisserand cross, but only succeeding in finding Didavi. He made the most of the chance that had been presented to him, and Wolfsburg were through to the quarter-finals.
Tuesday's other DFB-Pokal results
1. FSV Mainz 05 3-1 VfB Stuttgart (0-1, Gentner 41‘; 1-1, Berggreen 62‘; 2-1, Diallo 71‘; 3-1, Serdar 90+3‘)
SC Paderborn 07 1-0 FC Ingolstadt 04 (1-0, Zolinski 56‘)
Schalke 04 1-0 1. FC Köln (1-0, Meyer 63‘)