Wolfsburg race to early advantage

Wolfsburg's midfielder Julian Draxler scores his second with a well-executed chip over Gent's goalkeeper Matz Sels. Wolfsburg won the Champions League last 16 first leg 3-2.
Wolfsburg's midfielder Julian Draxler scores his second with a well-executed chip over Gent's goalkeeper Matz Sels. Wolfsburg won the Champions League last 16 first leg 3-2.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BRUSSELS • Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking has challenged his side to maintain their focus throughout the return leg of their Champions League last-16 tie after watching Gent score two late goals on Wednesday.

Wolfsburg raced to a 3-0 lead at the Ghelamco Arena but Gent gave themselves a lifeline when Sven Kums sparked a late rally in the 80th minute by delivering a right-foot drive that beat Koen Casteels at the far post.

Substitute Kalifa Coulibaly then converted a left-wing cross with a stooping near-post header in the 89th minute to limit the first-leg damage to a 2-3 loss.

"Yesterday I said we wanted to take home a decent result, and it is a fantastic result when you win away, but we know we cannot afford to make any mistakes in Wolfsburg, as Gent will always take advantage of that," Hecking said.

"They showed that today. So we've got a good result but we'll have to be fully concentrated for 90 minutes in three weeks' time. We have to make use of this good position."

Julian Draxler scored either side of the break before Germany team-mate Max Kruse made it 3-0 for the Bundesliga side with a close-range volley. Kruse also came close to adding a fourth goal when his shot rebounded off the post.

Gent, making their first appearance at this stage of the competition, appeared nervous at times.

The Belgian top-flight champions defended sloppily from the outset and turned up the heat on Wolfsburg's inexperienced keeper Casteels only towards the end of the match.

"I do wonder why we couldn't play like that from the start and I hope (his players) will learn from this," Gent manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck said.

"If we can get on top and score the first goal, they might start doubting themselves."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2016, with the headline 'Wolfsburg race to early advantage'. Print Edition | Subscribe