Wolfsburg have served notice that they're capable of competing with Bayern Munich, beating the league champs 5-4 on penalties to take the Supercup. Key to the win was a last-minute goal by an unlikely hero.
The Supercup, pitting last season's German champions against the German Cup winners, was widely seen as a test of whether Wolfsburg would be able to undermine the Bavarians' dominance this campaign. And Pep Guardiola's charges seemed to want to make a statement early on, subjecting the Wolves to a barrage of pressure.
New acquisition Douglas Costa was particularly lively for the 2014-15 champions, blowing past his marker Vierinha several times early on. Bayern were a bit unfortunate not to grab the lead in minute 8, when a corner kick fell to Jerome Boateng, who only hit the bar.
Wolfsburg weathered Munich's early flurry and slowly but surely began to generate chances of their own. Just after the half-hour mark, Manuel Neuer needed a fine reflex save to keep out an almost own goal by defender Medhi Banatia.
And Neuer was quite lucky not to be fishing the ball out of his own net just before the break after mistiming one of his patented keeper-sweeper headed clearances. But Kevin de Bruyne went wide with the subsequent chip.
Last-minute equalizer by "Lord Nick"
Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking had to feel that his men measured up well with the Bavarian juggernauts, but it was Bayern breaking the ice early in the second half. Arjen Robben, returning from injury, poked home a cross by Costa in minute 49. Koen Casteels, filling in for injured regular Wolfsburg keeper Diego Benaglio, did little to recommend himself on the play.
Bas Dost could have leveled things a short time later, but the hot-and-cold striker was given the cold shoulder by Neuer. The Wolves subbed on their top summer signing Max Kruse, and Bayern countered with their latest marquee acquisition, Arturo Vidal.
Bayern came closer to scoring a second than Wolfsburg did to knotting things. Then, out of nowhere and one minute from time, largely forgotten striker Nicklas Bendtner diverted a cross by de Bruyne past Neuer to send the Cup to penalties.
In Bayern's previous penalty shoot-out, in last season's German Cup semifinal, they failed to hit the mark even once. They did much better this time, with only Xabi Alonso being denied by an acrobatic Casteels' leg save. Wolfsburg were perfect from the spot, though, with Bendtner sealing the title with a rocket up under the bar.
Wolfsburg were arguably lucky. On the other hand, if their aim was to send a signal of intent in Munich's direction, they succeeded in spades.