Werder Bremen surprisingly ended VfL Wolfsburg's winning streak in the Bundesliga. After four defeats in a row, the promoted team won this supposedly unequal northern duel on Saturday 2-1 (1-0).
National striker Niclas Füllkrug scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season in front of 41,000 spectators in the Weser Stadium. In the 24th minute he converted a controversial hand penalty. In the 77th minute he scored from close range after a clever discard by Mitchell Weiser. Werder put a comfortable gap of eight points between themselves and the relegation place. Kevin Paredes made it 1:2 in the 90th minute.
The Wolfsburg had previously won six games in a row with a goal difference of 22:1. Even a draw in Bremen would have meant setting a club record from the championship year 2009, when VfL under Felix Magath went eleven consecutive Bundesliga games unbeaten.
But the energy and relentlessness that had made Niko Kovac's team so strong recently was shown this time above all by Bremen. Werder attacked Wolfsburg's build-up play early on with both strikers and usually two midfielders moving up. The 1:7 in Cologne and the home defeat against Union Berlin last Wednesday sparked a discussion in Bremen as to whether the offensive style of play and this early disruption was now too predictable and whether Ole Werner's team lacked an alternative strategy. The answer, however, was to stick to that plan with even greater conviction.
However, Werder needed the support of the video referee for the deserved opening goal. Wolfsburg's Yannick Gerhardt received the ball in his own penalty area from a short distance and hit his arm, which was only slightly spread out, and World Cup referee Daniel Siebert from Berlin initially allowed the game to continue. However, he got a tip from his assistant in Cologne, watched the scene again on his own screen - and then decided on a penalty.
A record of 10:2 shots on goal at the break shows that Werder didn't need to be ashamed of this lead. But VfL was also always dangerous with the few attacks that were played to the end. A headed goal by Jonas Wind didn't count because foreman Patrick Wimmer was narrowly offside (31'). A shot by Mattias Svanberg hit the crossbar (35').
Nevertheless, Kovac lacked the intensity of the past games from the start. After a quarter of an hour he warned his players loudly from the sidelines. At the start of the second half he brought on two new players, Omar Marmoush and Josuha Guilavogui.
The addition of the intelligent Guilavogui and the switch to a 4-2-3-1 system with two guards in midfield gave VfL more control of the game. But the most successful offensive of the new Bundesliga year remained surprisingly harmless after the break.
After eleven goals in the last two games, Wolfsburg crosses almost always landed on the opponent this time or attackers like Marmoush got stuck in the penalty area. Werder defended their own penalty area with a lot of passion and their counterattacks were more dangerous than VfL's mostly hectic and imprecise attacking efforts.