Sunday, January 31, 2010

31 January 2009 - Wolfsburg Reaches The Turning Point

On 31 January 2009, Wolfsburg drew 1-1 with hosts Köln, continuing their season-long road winless streak in the league. Cruelly, the goal that denied them their first away victory was scored by Köln's Romanian forward Sergiu Radu, who was on loan from Wolfsburg.

Going into the match, the schizophrenic Wolves were sitting 8th in the Bundesliga table, having gone undefeated at home, but their nine previous away matches that season had ended in five losses and four draws. Against Köln, they appeared to be heading for yet another loss, as Radu put the hosts up 1-0 with a strike in the 34th minute. Köln had several chances to increase their lead, but were denied by a combination of poor finishing and excellent work from Wolves' Swiss keeper Diego Benaglio. Wolfsburg salvaged the draw with a 77th-minute equalizer from their Brazilian striker Grafite (pictured).

Although Wolfsburg left with yet another draw, Grafite's goal proved to be a defining moment for the club, as they carried the momentum from the Köln match into a 10-game winning streak. That streak, which included four away wins, equalled the German top flight's record winning streak and finished with Wolfsburg sitting on top of the table.

Wolfsburg lost only twice more that season (both on the road) and remained at the top to claim the Bundesliga title--the club's first major trophy. Grafite went on to become the Bundesliga's top scorer that season, with 28 goals in 25 league appearances, and was named the league's Footballer of the Year.

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