Wolfsburg's upcoming Champions League clash with Real Madrid already looks a distraction from their domestic action as Dieter Hecking's side were out-classed by Bayer Leverkusen. Three moments of class sealed the win.
Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Wolfsburg
(Brandt 27‘, Hernandez 73‘, Yurchenko 87‘)
Both Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg have, up to now, played seasons that have gone far below club expectations. Before the two sides met at the BayArena on Friday night, Leverkusen stood sixth and Wolfsburg eighth, both needing a win to kick-start any hope of qualifying for the Champions League.
Roger Schmidt's men showed something that we have rarely seen this season, as they were in control throughout the match and never looked nervous or deterred by facing a European rival in one of their season's most important matches. Injury problems have hampered the Werkself's campaign, but the return of captain Lars Bender appeared to lift the Leverkusen players to produce a special performance.
The opening 25 minutes failed to deliver any entertainment and personified both sides season so far. However the home team was the better side and was showing a desire to press forward that they had not been seen for a long time.
After 27 minutes, Leverkusen's youngest player delivered the goods to take the lead. A neat one-two with Hakan Calhanoglu on the edge of the Wolfsburg box allowed Julian Brandt enough space to curl the ball past Diego Benaglio with one touch for his fifth goal of the season. Leverkusen have yet to lose a game this season in which they have taken the lead, and Wolfsburg are yet to win one in which they have conceded first. Heading into the second-half, the trend looked unlikely to change.
Three moments of Leverkusen class
As the second half began, it was obvious to see that Wolfsburg was struggling to create anything in attack. Max Kruse was frustrated by the solid central defensive partnership of Jonathan Tah and Andre Ramalho, while in midfield Bender's presence was showing just how much he had been missed.
With just under 20 minutes to play, the result was secured with a remarkable moment for Leverkusen's new favorite son. Javier Hernandez, having come on from the bench 13 minutes earlier, took aim from all of 25 meters out and beat Benaglio with a shot he wasn't expecting. Again, it told the story of Wolfsburg's night and season: they never looked ready or eager to compete.
At the other end, Leverkusen's front-four was showing its potential once again. Calhanoglu and Brandt had been playing alone for a large section of the match, while Karim Bellarabi left Ricardo Rodrgiuez in his dust on several occasions.
The icing on the cake on a perfect night for the home fans was delivered when Vladlen Yurchenko scored his first ever Bundesliga goal with a perfectly placed shot with the outside of his right foot. The comfort of the win even allowed Charles Aranguiz to make his debut for the home side, coming off the bench eight months after signing from Brazilian club Internacional.
Each Leverkusen goal was a different show of class that they had looked inspired to create all night, and that Wolfsburg never seemed able to keep up with.
Just six games remain for these two European-chasing sides, with Leverkusen now perched in fourth place, seven points ahead of Wolfsburg in eighth. The home team's positive show is a sign of their desire to reach Champions League qualification ahead of their rivals, while the Wolves looked distracted by their glamour Champions League tie with Real Madrid which could cost them a place in any European competition next season.