Berlin, March 13 (IANS) VfL Wolfsburg turned the tide against FC Inter Milan thanks to a second half brace by Kevin De Bruyne in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16.
The “Wolves” staged a sloppy start into the game and were punished with an early deficit at an outsold Volkswagen Arena on Thursday. However, they leveled the scores in the first half through Naldo before De Bruyne was on target twice to seal the deal at the second half, reports Xinhua.
Milan caught a fairytale start as Rodrigo Palacio caught Wolfsburg flat footed following a through ball by Mauro Icardi to slot home the opener with just goalkeeper Diego Benaglio to beat in the sixth minute.
The hosts recovered at the half hour mark when Naldo headed home a corner kick by De Bruyne to restore parity. Nevertheless, Inter remained dangerous on the counters. But they were also wasteful as Palacio, who had all time and space inside the box, pulled wide to hit the side netting.
Wolfsburg took the lead for the first time in the 63rd minute when Vieirinha intercepted a miss placed pass by Milan’s goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo to set up for De Bruyne who tapped in the 2-1 lead.
Things changed from bad to worse for the visitors from Italy within 13 minutes. De Bruyne curled home a free kick over the wall into the far post corner to wrap up his brace and to make the game safe.
Yet, both sides had the chance to reap another goal but neither Icardi was able to reduce the arrears for Inter nor De Bruyne was able to extend the lead for the hosts.
“Needles to say that the early goal by Inter was unnecessary. We can do better than that and we showed that at the second half. It was great to see how the team responded. We have laid an foundation for the second leg,” Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking said.
“It is a deserved victory for Wolfsburg but annoys me that they capitalised on our errors. All three goals were avoidable. In the opening period we played good and grabbed the deserved lead,” Inter coach Roberto Mancini said.
With the 3-1 victory Wolfsburg take a two-goal advantage to Italy to encounter Inter for the second leg next Thursday.