Led by triple goal scorer Max Kruse, VfL Wolfsburg, playing like unleashed, took the decisive step towards staying up in the Bundesliga. The Lower Saxony didn’t give FSV Mainz 05 a chance in the sovereign 5:0 (5:0) on Friday and even made the bitter 1:6 debacle just six days earlier at Borussia Dortmund almost completely forgotten. As eleventh in the table, VfL have a nine-point lead over the relegation zone at the start of the 31st matchday with three games left.
“There are worse starts to the weekend. Mathematically, we can still descend, but we’ve definitely gotten some air,” said Kruse on DAZN. Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels added: “We had a duty to show a reaction. We did. We showed that there was a team on the pitch today.”
Kruse in his strongest game since returning to Autostadt (24th minute/penalty kick, 34th, 45th +2) and Jonas Wind (8th, 42nd) scored the goals for coach Florian Kohfeldt’s team in front of 19,055 spectators . Mainz, who were disastrous in the first half and had to play outnumbered for a long time after a red card for Niklas Tauer (24th), have been waiting for a win for five games and are ninth with 39 points. “We concede far too many goals far too easily,” said Mainz’s Stefan Bell: “When you’re outnumbered so early, you just have to do it smarter. We learned a lot.” Wolfsburg has two points less on the account.
With the first dangerous goal action, Wind effortlessly converted a shot deflected by Lukas Nmecha to the post and rebounded to the Dane into the goal. It was the start that Kohfeldt had wanted. The head coach relied on just one change in the starting eleven: instead of the injured central defender Maxence Lacroix, Jerome Roussillon moved into the starting line-up. In comparison to the 0-0 draw against VfB Stuttgart, Mainz relied on two new faces. Leandro Barreiro replaced Dominik Kohr in defensive midfield and Marcus Ingvartsen replaced Karim Onisiwo in attack.
After the clap in the Ruhrpott, VfL showed the “answer on the pitch” demanded by sports director Marcel Schäfer. Rotuinier Kruse (34), who was brought in from Union Berlin in the winter, made it 2-0 with a safely converted penalty. The Mainz Tauer had previously pulled Lukas Nmecha’s jersey and prevented a clear scoring opportunity. After checking video evidence, referee Harm Osmers Tauer showed the red card for an emergency brake.
Outnumbered, the helpless and unimaginative Mainzers were still overwhelmed. Kruse used that to make it 3-0. After a cross from Ridle Baku, the ex-international just held out his foot for his first hat-trick of the season. After the change in the winter break, things did not go as planned for Kruse, he had only scored three goals in ten previous appearances. Kruse had so far failed to fully fill the role of the leader.
Before the break he scored the third goal, after Wind had scored twice before. Mainz had long since given up by then and had to watch the Wolves score five times in the first half for the first time in their Bundesliga history. After the change of sides, it became much quieter. Wolfsburg was satisfied with the clear result, Mainz was only trying to limit the damage and was no longer able to prevent the hefty 14th defeat of the season. (dpa)