Grafite pencils in a revival for Wolfsburg

Hat-trick in 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow can kick-start side's poor <i>Bundesliga</i> form
Click to follow
The Independent Football

The Wolfsburg coach Armin Veh hopes Tuesday night's convincing Champions League victory over CSKA Moscow can kick-start his side's domestic title defence.

A hat-trick from Brazilian striker Grafite ensured a 3-1 win over the former Tottenham coach Juande Ramos' side, a result which went some way to easing the pain of three successive Bundesliga defeats. Veh is under pressure to emulate the achievements of predecessor Felix Magath, who led the Wolves to their first ever league title last season before standing down.

"Following three back-to-back defeats, a Champions League game is not easy – in particular a home game," Veh said. "We wanted to put on a disciplined performance, but we also knew that we had a strong opponent and wanted to prevent them from getting into the game.

"We didn't have many chances on goal but we made good use of those we had and got the goals at the right time. This win gives us self-confidence. That was important for the Bundesliga, too." Wolfsburg are in Manchester United's Champions League group.

Ramos, taking charge of only his second game after being brought in as the replacement for Zico last week, hailed the match-winning performance of Grafite as "world class".

"It was a typical Champions League game at the very highest level," said the former Seville, Real Madrid and Tottenham manager.

"We didn't play badly at the beginning and managed to control the tie. When we then make three individual mistakes, we are going to be punished. Grafite then had every opportunity and took his chances like a real goal-getter. That was world class."

Grafite, the top goalscorer in Germany last season, played down his role in the win, insisting all that matters is the team progresses both in Europe and domestically.

"On the whole we played very well – not just me, but the complete team," said the 30-year-old. "It remains our goal to progress past the group stage in the competition. I'm really happy to have scored three goals that have helped the team win a very tough match.

"It was difficult for us as it was our first match in the Champions League, but I think that we played well against a good team. Now we have to focus on the Bundesliga."

Meanwhile, striker Luca Toni is ready for his Bayern Munich comeback – with the reserves in Germany's third division. Toni, who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, has not played this season because of Achilles' tendon problems. He started training recently with the rest of the team.

"I promised him that he would play Friday if everything goes well in practice," the Bayern coach, Louis van Gaal, said after Tuesday's 3-0 victory at Maccabi Haifa. "Maximum 45 minutes, then we'll see."

The reserves face Jahn Regensburg tomorrow and Toni has no qualms about playing for them. "I have a great desire to play," the Italian said. "I want the competition."

Comments