Berlin: Wolfsburg extended their unbeaten run to six matches and climbed to fifth in the Bundesliga table on Sunday after Yannick Gerhardt's late goal sealed a thrilling 3-2 win at strugglers Augsburg.
The Bavarian hosts, who are just a point from the relegation places, had come from two goals down to equalise before midfielder Gerhardt popped up with the winner a minute from time.
When Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels sent the ball down the right wing, Gerhardt timed his run perfectly into the box to meet Renato Steffen's cross and guide the ball past despairing Augsburg stopper Andreas Luthe in pouring rain.
His goal secured a third straight win from Wolfsburg's three games in the last seven days, following 2-0 victories against both Nuremberg and Stuttgart, as Gerhardt revealed his extra reason to be pleased with his winner.
"It was pretty late and you have to say Augsburg played very well in the second half," Gerhardt told Sky as the Bundesliga now breaks for winter.
"I thought I'd have a go with a run and the boys had teased me before the game for being slow, so I was glad to put in a sprint."
It was, however, heartbreaking for Augsburg fans hoping for a pre-Christmas gift of a first league win since the end of October.
Because Bruno Labbadia-coached Wolfsburg were ultimately made to work by plucky Augsburg, having cruised into a 2-0 half-time lead.
French midfielder Josuha Guilavogui tapped home unmarked at the far post on 33 minutes before Brazilian right-back William's shot from outside the area nestled in the bottom right corner four minutes from half-time.
Augsburg showed heart by fighting back as their coach Manuel Baum made changes at the break.
Rani Khedira, younger brother of Germany's 2014 World Cup winner Sami Khedira, pulled a goal back four minutes into the second half before replacement Sergio Cordova equalised with a brilliant header after a Jonathan Schmid cross to set up a tense final half hour before Gerhardt struck.
Wolfsburg go into the Bundesliga's winter break four points from the Champions League places, but trail leaders Borussia Dortmund, who won 2-1 at home to Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday, by 14 points.
In the final Bundesliga game of 2018, Hoffenheim missed the chance to break into the top six, the European place, after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Mainz on Sunday night.
Midfielder Karim Demirbay gave hosts Hoffenheim the lead with a superb shot on 11 minutes, but Mainz replied quickly as striker Jean-Philippe Mateta equalised from 12 metres out just five minutes later.
Hoffenheim went perilously close to claiming a winner when Ishak Belfodil, then Vincenzo Grifo both hit the post in the final 20 minutes as Mainz clung on.
Hoffenheim have now hit the woodwork 13 times so far this season and despite their frustrations, there was festive cheer in Sinsheim as home fans sang Wham's "Last Christmas" during the second half.
On Saturday, defending champions Bayern Munich moved up to second place, six points behind Dortmund, with an impressive 3-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt as evergreen Franck Ribery, 35, scored twice to fuel hopes of a contract extension with his current deal to expire in June.
Updated Date: Dec 24, 2018 07:45:08 IST