Wolfsburg stuns Real Madrid in Champions League upset
Wolfsburg caused the biggest upset of this season's Champions League with a 2-0 victory over record 10-time winner Real Madrid in the first leg of their quarterfinal on Wednesday.
Making only its second appearance in the competition and playing its first quarterfinal, Wolfsburg outmuscled and outran the Spanish giant to give itself a clear chance of advancing after next Tuesday's second leg at the Bernabeu.
"We are in a good position, we can always score a goal," Wolfsburg's coach Dieter Hecking said. "We wanted to unnerve them a little, and we succeeded."
Ricardo Rodriguez converted a penalty in the 18th minute and Maximilian Arnold added the second in the 25th as the home side used counterattacks to devastating effect, dealing Madrid its first defeat in the competition this season. Wolfsburg has won all five home matches.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal disallowed for offside in the second minute and the Madrid star had little chance of increasing his competition-high tally of 13 goals after that.
"We didn't get into the game well," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "But we still have 90 minutes at home, we have to stay calm."
Madrid came into the match following a 2-1 win over Barcelona in the Spanish league "clasico," while Wolfsburg is struggling in the Bundesliga. It was beaten 3-0 by Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, having previously lost one and drawn the other of its two league games before that.
"We knew it would be difficult. Wolfsburg got better into the match. We had our difficulties, we lacked intensity and movement. We didn't expect to lose 2-0," Zidane said. "Our second half was better."
In Wednesday's other match, Paris Saint-German drew 2-2 with Manchester City at home.
Wolfsburg took the lead when Casemiro upended Andre Schuerrle with a rash tackle. Rodriguez sent Kelor Navas the wrong way from the spot.
The second goal came soon afterward.
Julian Draxler cut inside form the left and squared the ball to Bruno Henrique, whose cross allowed Arnold to tap in from close range.
Henrique was a surprise choice by Hecking. The Brazilian midfielder had not played in the Champions League before and had only made five brief appearances in the Bundesliga before Wednesday but threatened frequently on the right flank.
"He really tied down Marcelo and he is good in the air and fast," Hecking said.
Hecking also criticized Marcelo for playacting that earned Arnold a yellow card. "He doesn't need it," Hecking said of Madrid's defender, who fell down clutching his face although he wasn't touched by Arnold.
"This is breathtaking," Arnold said of his team's win. "But we're only 50 percent done."
The second surprise was the inclusion of central defender Naldo, who missed five weeks with a shoulder injury and had been expected to sit out the rest of the season.
"My doctor came from Brazil and I told the coach this week that I was ready to play," Naldo said.
Madrid striker Karim Benzema limped off late in the first half with what seemed a left-knee injury.
Schuerrle could have made it 3-0 in the second half but shot high, while Ronaldo sent a close-range header over the top after a cross from Gareth Bale.