Wolfsburg secured their passage into the Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday, with André Schürrle scoring the only goal of the game as they saw off Gent at the Volkswagen Arena. The on-the-night victory guaranteed the knockout stage debutantes a 4-2 aggregate win.
Gent made a promising start to Tuesday's second leg, but failed to turn their early intensity into any serious goal-scoring opportunities. They managed work plenty of crosses into the Wolfsburg penalty area, though there was invariably no one waiting to pounce on their deliveries.
Wolfsburg's defense was fairly comfortable as a result, and looked increasingly so as the clock ticked on. That said, they only drew one serious save from Gent keeper Matz Sels when midfielder Josuha Guilavogui's venomous effort had to be tipped to safety in the 18th minute. The hosts were scarcely put under any pressure at the back.
The second half was no different, characterized by plenty of Wolfsburg possession but little attacking intent. Gent looked comfortable in coping with everything the German hosts threw their way, though continued to offer almost nothing of their own going forward.
The visitors were eventually punished for their poor attacking showing with Wolfsburg killing the tie off inside the final 20 minutes. Some smart work by Julian Draxler saw the young German ghost into the area and pull the ball back across goal for the onrushing Schürrle, who made no mistake with an open goal gaping. In the end, Wolfsburg's superior quality shone through in a game badly lacking in excitement.
Wolfsburg: Koen Casteels; Ricardo Rodríguez, Dante, Robin Knoche, Christian Träsch; Josuha Guilavogui, Luiz Gustavo; Julian Draxler (Daniel Caligiuri 78'), Max Arnold (Vieirinha 83'), André Schürrle (Marcel Schäfer 89'); Max Kruse.
Goals: Schürrle (74').
Gent: Matz Sels; Nana Asare, Rami Gershon, Lasse Nielsen, Rafinha (Thomas Foket 77'); Sven Kums, Renato Neto; Thomas Matton (Kenny Saief 68'), Brecht Dejaegere; Moses Simon (Kalifa Coulibaly 70'), Danijel Miličević.
1. The away goals rule is bad
This game could've been a pretty exciting one. Separated by only a goal on aggregate, both of these teams had plenty of motive to give it their best shot. However, in reality, they weren't actually separated by one: the away goals rule meant Gent had to score at least twice to stand any chance of getting back into the tie. It meant that conceding before finding the net themselves would've reduced their slim chance to a big fat nil. The upshot was, alas, a game in which both teams were more worried about conceding than scoring, and one that certainly won't live long in the memory.
2. Gent can't complain about their Champions League run
Though exiting a tournament is never welcomed by any football team, Gent can still be proud of their efforts in this year's Champions League. With a team comprised of scarcely any internationals -- of their starting lineup in this match, only Israeli defender Rami Gershon and Nigerian forward Moses Simon are regulars for their countries -- they've managed to not only make it into the group stages, but the knockouts for the first time in their history. This may be the end of the road, but it has been an impressive journey all the same.
3. Remind me of the 'European Super League' idea, again ...
Yep, sounds good.