Florian Kainz’s first two league goals of the season, including a first-half stunner, gave Werder Bremen a second-consecutive Bundesliga victory against VfL Wolfsburg.
Ludwig Augustinsson was the unlikely source of the opening goal earlier on, with Kainz’s cracking first coming soon before half-time.
Paul Verhaegh pulled one back after his penalty was initially saved by Jiri Pavlenka, before Kainz then bagged a second to see his side move three points clear of the bottom three and just one behind Wolfsburg.
Bremen all over Wolfsburg in first half
Both sides were beaten in the DFB-Pokal in midweek, Bremen losing an epic at Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg beaten at Schalke 04. The hosts made one change, with Thomas Delaney surprisingly making way for the fit-again Philipp Bargrede, whilst Wolfsburg had four alterations. The injured duo of Marcel Tisserand and Yannick Gerhardt, plus Sebastian Jung and Divock Origi, made way for Verhaegh, William, Josip Brekalo and Victor Osimhen.
Bremen, looking to put three points between them and the bottom three having escaped with a dramatic 2-1 win over Schalke last weekend, got off to the perfect start. A corner from Zlatko Junuzovic was absolutely perfect, finding Augustinsson who despite having two defenders around him was able to head the ball in to put his ahead inside the fourth minute.
Osimhen, the young striker for Wolfsburg, almost had a chance to level the game but was beaten to the ball by Augustinsson, whilst Pavlenka also had to make a couple of further saves. Otherwise, the hosts were on top, with Max Kruse creating an excellent chance as he placed the ball into the path of Maximillian Eggenstein, but he couldn’t get a clean hit over Koen Casteels and a defender managed to clear it.
The chances kept on coming for Bremen. Aron Jóhannsson did well to beat William on the right before Eggenstein had his header from the cross kept out by Casteels. Another Junuzovic corner then caused further problems, as a header from Kruse was kept out by the arm of William, although the following action was so frenetic the referee didn’t given get a chance to consider consulting VAR. Play continued, and soon after Niklas Moisander got the ball in space, striking into the bar, off Casteels and out.
At the other end, Moisander did the job he is paid for by heading clear a William cross before it could find the lurking Osimhen. In truth though Bremen deserved a second and it came soon before the break. Kainz charged down the left, but rather than cross he came inside, got the ball on his right foot and let loose a stunning strike that gave Casteels no chance.
Kainz secures the points after Verhaegh rebound goal
Soon into the second half a hopeless attempt at a clearance from Moisander gifted Osimhen the perfect chance to pull a goal back, but he struck straight at Pavlenka. They had a lifeline soon after though, with Moisander again at fault as he pulled back Robin Knoche to concede a penalty. Pavlenka saved Verhaegh’s spot kick, but the rebound went straight to the Dutchman and he didn’t make a mistake the second time.
The game had swung the other way, with Wolfsburg now the team who were applying the most pressure. A corner from Admir Mehmedi was headed over the bar by Osimhen, who wasn’t having the great luck in front of goal despite his best efforts, whilst Brekalo also put an effort over. Maximillain Arnold nearly caught Bremen out with a quickly-taken free-kick, however substitute Delaney was switched on enough to block Yunus Malli in the box.
Bremen had not been going forward with the same fluency, perhaps summed up by a weak Junuzovic side that was always going wide. Soon after that though, Eggestein dispossessed Jeffrey Bruma, passed to Kruse, who then set up Kainz, who from the left side of goal struck in to restore the two-goal lead he had originally given his side earlier. The two goals here matches the two he scored for Bremen in the Bundesliga last season.
Wolfsburg weren’t dispirited by that, with a Malli effort saved by Pavlenka before a cross from Verhaegh found Osimhen, but he headed wide off target again. Bremen then had the chance to finish the game off once and for all, however Kruse, coming forward, went alone instead of supplying Jérôme Gondorf, and saw his shot deflect into the hands of Casteels.
The frustration got the better of the Wolves in the end, with four bookings in stoppage time, including for Arnold after a spat on the side of the pitch. It mattered little to Bremen though, who can breathe a little easier tonight with daylight between them and 1. FSV Mainz 05, who sit in the relegation play-off place. Coach Florian Kohfeldt also remains unbeaten at home. Wolfsburg are a point further ahead, but have some tough fixtures ahead, including Bayern Munich next weekend.