Late Gent ambitions from Sven Kums and Kalifa Coulibaly pegged back Wolfsburg, who ran out 3-2 winners thanks to Julian Draxler’s double.
Julian Draxler netted a superb brace to put Gent’s Champions League hopes in jeopardy as Wolfsburg ran out 3-2 winners at the Ghelamco Arena.
The German side marked their first appearance in the Champions League knockout stages using a first-leg victory more than a Gent side that had been beaten just after in 30 preceding property games, even though the hosts mounted a late fightback to help keep the tie close.
The Belgians’ resolve was dented when Draxler opened the scoring with a mazy run and clinical finish just ahead of half-time, as well as the Germany international made it 2-0 when he chipped Gent goalkeeper Matz Sels 10 minutes just after the break.
Max Kruse converted Christian Trasch’s cross because the tie looked about to slip out of Gent’s attain, but Sven Kums and Kalifa Coulibaly’s late strikes will give the Belgians hope in the second leg at Volkswagen Arena.
The result will have eased the stress on Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking, whose side have the worst away record in the Bundesliga this season, whilst Gent boss Hein Vanhaezebrouck may well soon be capable of give his full consideration to domestic action.
Draxler, who scored in Wolfsburg’s win more than Ingolstadt in their prior outing, gave an early signal of his intentions soon after 5 minutes, cutting inside from the left and firing a dipping shot over the crossbar.
Hecking’s men looked determined to defy their dreadful away record but Gent nearly identified a chink in their armour when Laurent Depoitre’s knock down fell to Thomas Foket on the edge from the penalty area, only for the midfielder to scoop his shot properly high of Koen Casteels’ objective.
The property crowd are unaccustomed to seeing their side struggle but they endured a nervous moment when Gent defender Stefan Mitrovic headed Max Arnold’s dangerous cross just wide of his own aim following half an hour.
Just as it looked as even though Gent had survived the first-half onslaught, Draxler burst down the left wing, played a neat one-two with Vieirinha, and hooked a cool finish past Sels with his suitable foot to give Wolfsburg the lead.
Wolfsburg sent on Andre Schurrle to add to their attacking threat in the second half, and the lead was doubled inside ten minutes on the restart.
A woefully loose ball from Renato Neto allowed Draxler to intercept and he skipped past Mitrovic prior to executing a deft chip to beat Sels and make it 2-0.
Wolfsburg poured forward once again and Trasch’s brilliant first-time cross identified Kruse, who applied an instinctive finish to beat Sels regardless of stress from Mitrovic to seemingly place the tie to bed.
But Gent have been handed a lifeline when Kums skipped down the left and caught the Wolfsburg defence napping, slotting a basic finish previous Casteels to make it 3-1.
Plus the complexion with the tie was turned on its head as substitute Kenny Saief crossed for Coulibaly to nod house in the near post to produce it 3-2, despite the fact that Wolfsburg’s 100 per cent house record in this season’s Champions League will give them bring about for comfort inside the return leg.