WOLFSBURG: Divock Origi scored and set up a goal to help Wolfsburg seal a 3-1 win over battling minnows Holstein Kiel in the first leg of the Bundesliga relegation on Thursday.
The Belgium striker, whose loan deal from Liverpool expires after the two-legged playoff, tapped in an early opener at the Volkswagen Arena, then set up the third for Yunus Malli to leave Wolfsburg in pole position before Monday’s second leg.
Origi, 23, caused Wolfsburg some embarassment in the build-up when he confessed knowing nothing about Kiel, but he made amends with an impressive display.
This was a true David verses Goliath clash as big-spending Wolfsburg’s annual squad salary budget is reportedly 60 million euros (RM282 million) – ten times that of Kiel.
After Origi’s goal, Kingsley Schindler equalised before Josip Brekalo and Malli netted either side of the break for Wolfsburg, but Kiel pushed Wolfsburg all the way.
For the second year running, Wolfsburg are in the relegation playoff after finishing 16th in Germany’s top flight, while Kiel qualified by coming third in the 2. Bundesliga.
“That was okay, but we missed out on scoring the fourth goal and were struggling at the end,” admitted Wolfsburg captain Maximilian Arnold.
“When you finish 16th, you are used to things not working out over the full 90 minutes.”
The hosts deservedly took an early lead when centre-back Robin Knoche dribbled down the left flank before Malli skipped past three defenders, burst into the box and played the ball into the middle.
Swiss midfielder Renato Steffen forced Kiel’s goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm into a reflex parry, but Origi tapped home the rebound on 13 minutes.
Kiel drew level when midfielder Dominick Drexler beat two defenders at the byline, then pulled the ball back into the middle for Schindler to tap into an empty net on 34 minutes.
Wolfsburg regained the lead six minutes later when Knoche fired a long-range pass into Kiel’s box, the ball was headed away to Brekalo, who smashed his shot into the top left-hand corner.
Origi sealed the first-leg win with a superb piece of skill in the build-up to the third goal.
Despite being fouled, Origi kept possession when the referee waved play on, beat another challenge and threaded a pass to Malli, who rounded Kiel’s keeper and fired home on 56 minutes.
Kiel piled on the pressure with substitute striker Aaron Seydel hitting the post and Marvin Ducksch twice firing wide in the dying stages.