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  • 30 November 2014
  • • 14:30
  • • VOLKSWAGEN ARENA, Wolfsburg
  • Referee: W. Stark
  • • Attendance: 30000

Wolfsburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach: Knoche keeps hosts in Bayern hunt

Wolfsburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach: Knoche keeps hosts in Bayern hunt


The 22-year-old defender gave Bundesliga's second-placed side a boost in their pursuit of the reigning champions and the visitors were unable to respond

Wolfsburg reduced the gap to Bundesliga table-toppers Bayern Munich to seven points with a 1-0 win at home to top-four rivals Borussia Monchengladbach.

Robin Knoche scored the only goal of the game at the Volkswagen Arena, poking the hosts ahead 12 minutes in after Yann Sommer made a mess of a wicked delivery from Marcel Schafer.

A few sharp saves from Diego Benaglio ensured Dieter Hecking's men remained in the ascendancy while, at the other end, the counterattacking style of the hosts caused relentless problems for Lucien Favre's side.

Despite the relatively low scoreline, the game had plenty of entertainment and Gladbach went desperately close to levelling in stoppage-time with a melee from a corner somehow not resulting in the ball ending up in the back of Wolfsburg's net.

Both teams were without star midfielders through suspension - Luiz Gustavo for Wolfsburg and Granit Xhaka for Gladbach - as the coaches changed half of the starting XIs which had featured in midweek Europa League matches.

Gladbach controlled possession in the early stages but it was the hosts who turned a poor goalkeeping effort into a poacher's goal.

Schafer sprinted along the left edge of the penalty area and whipped a ball in at the front post, which Sommer flailed unsuccessfully at and Knoche, stood beside him, was able to prod Wolfsburg into a one-goal lead.

Favre's men responded by pressing the hosts hard and their first clear-cut chance was saved well by Benaglio, who leapt to his right to deny a Roel Brouwers effort.

At the other end, Oscar Wendt twice prevented Wolfsburg from doubling their lead. First, he intercepted a dangerous counterattacking move thrust forwards by Kevin De Bruyne and Ivica Olic, then he ensured Naldo (making his 250th Bundesliga appearance) was denied with an off-the-line clearance from the subsequent corner.

An outstanding save from Benaglio kept the hosts in the lead with a third of the game gone, denying Patrick Herrmann's fine header from rippling the back of the net after Andre Hahn's inch-perfect cross.

With 33 minutes played the visitors were peppering Wolfsburg's box with chances – Hahn was desperately unlucky to not direct a superb flick-on goalwards, although a questionable offside call would have ruled out any potential goal anyway.

The hosts held Gladbach just-about at bay, though, as they survived unscathed until the break.

The second half continued in the same vein as the first, with Wolfsburg content to let Gladbach have most of the ball but power back against them with scything counterattacks.

Many of the home supporters thought the lead was doubled in the 57th minute when Maximilian Arnold's low shot was palmed straight to De Bruyne by Sommer, but the offside flag was rightly raised and the Belgian's tap-in disallowed.

The game became progressively more broken up as both sets of players attempted to fool referee Wolfgang Stark by exaggerating contact from opposition players, though the official was mostly unmoved by the protestations.

Wolfsburg settled into keeping Gladbach - who became increasingly frustrated with the lack of options and chances - at arm's length by containing the visitors in the middle third of the pitch.

But the match burst back into life in the closing stage. Wolfsburg substitute Aaron Hunt twice should have doubled the lead but on both occasions shot straight at Sommer.

Then, in stoppage-time, Gladbach somehow failed to convert a melee instead Wolfsburg's box into a goal, with the hosts holding on for all three points.

Gladbach, in defeat, remain fifth in the Bundesliga - now six points adrift of their vanquishers, with Bayer Leverkusen and surprise package Augsburg ahead of them.