Pongracic’s double joy as Wolfsburg stun Leverkusen
LEVERKUSEN, Germany (Sports) – Croatian Marin Pongracic scored his first two Bundesliga goals as VfL Wolfsburg romped to a surprise 4-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday, boosting their hopes of playing in European competition next season.
Leverkusen slipped one place down to fifth on 53 points from 28 games, while Wolfsburg stayed sixth on 42 points and on course to clinch a Europa League qualifying berth.
It was the home side’s first defeat since the season restarted following a two-month stoppage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, after they beat Borussia Moenchengladbach 3-1 and Werder Bremen 4-1 away in their first two games back.
Cardboard fans in the otherwise empty stadium, with all Bundesliga games being played behind closed doors, did little to inspire Leverkusen, as Wolfsburg dominated the opening half against a toothless home side.
Centre back Pongracic headed the visitors into a 43rd-minute lead when he met a Maximilian Arnold free kick from the right after Leverkusen keeper Lukas Hradecky had denied Joao Victor in the opening 15 minutes.
Hradecky pulled off two more fine saves shortly after the break but was powerless to stop the rout as a galvanised Wolfsburg fired on all cylinders.
Arnold made it 2-0 with a heavily deflected free kick in the 64th minute and Renato Steffen added the third soon after, heading a Victor cross into the roof of the net after he was left unmarked at the far post.
Another fine cross by Arnold allowed Pongracic to put the icing on the cake with a glancing 74th-minute header before Julian Baumgartlinger scored a late consolation for the home side when he swept in a loose ball from close range.
Leverkusen visit seventh-placed Freiburg on Friday in the next round of matches while Wolfsburg are at home to struggling Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)