Lower Saxony side come from behind as Felix Magath's men inflict defeat on their boss's former club
A fortuitous winner from Mario Mandzukic allowed Wolfsburg to come from behind to defeat Schalke 2-1, consigning the Gelsenkirchen club to their second league loss of the season.
Raul dealt a blow to Felix Magath, the manager who took him to the Bundesliga, within the opening quarter of an hour, beating Marwin Hitz to Jefferson Farfan’s chipped ball to score.
Wolfsburg’s response, however, was strong. Kyrgiakos sent a header narrowly wide, while Makoto Hasebe sent a cross-shot straight into Ralf Fahrmann’s arms with two team-mates waiting in the middle.
After the half-hour mark, Mandzukic got goal side of Joel Matip to head Rasmus Jonsson’s cross past Fahrmann into the net to get his side on level terms.
Schalke’s defence was cut apart, and minutes later, Ralf Rangnick’s side were exposed again, with Christian Trasch firing a powerful effort into the side-netting, before last-ditch defending from the visitors scrambled Sotirios Kyrgiakos’ flick clear, with Fahrmann in no man’s land.
Raul was the unlikely defensive hero for his side in the dying stages of the first half, clearing Srdan Lakic’s header off the line, while at the other end, a Farfan cut-back not only eluded the Wolfsburg defence, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who was looming.
The second period lacked the end-to-end quality of its predecessor, with both sides having fewer clear sights of goal. Huntelaar dragged a half-chance wide for his side, before Lakic sent a powerful header wide at the other end.
With 20 minutes remaining, Farfan almost gifted Wolfsburg a goal, but fortunately for the Peruvian, Lakic headed Marcel Schafer’s cross wide when he should have done better.
As the hosts pushed for a winner, a tumbling Lewis Holtby took Lakic down with him, but to the consternation of the home fans, the referee elected to ignore their cries for a penalty.
Huntelaar missed another golden opportunity with the last 10 minutes approaching, giving Marwin Hitz an easy save with a volley from Christian Fuchs’ left-wing cross.
The Dutchman’s wastefulness proved costly when, just seconds later, Shafer blasted a poor effort towards goal from 30 yards, and although it looked to be an easy save for Fahrmann, the ball struck Mandzukic, taking it into the back of the net.
It was fortuitous for Wolfsburg, but, arguably, what they had deserved for their spirited response to going behind to an early goal.
Wolfsburg’s victory sees them rise to 13th in the table, while Schalke slip to fifth.