KISSIMMEE, FL – For the second night in a row, the 2017 Florida Cup featured a Bundesliga side against a Serie A club from Brazil at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. After a scoreless draw, Wolfsburg outlasted Bahia, 3-2, in a penalty shootout to claim the extra point, winning the Florida Cup FC Challenge for the German group.
By drawing Bahia in regulation, Wolfsburg clinched the team competition for Germany in the FC Challenge, as neither Brazil nor the U.S./Argentina group can reach Germany’s 10 points with the two matches remaining. Ricardo Villar presented Wolfsburg with the FC Challenge trophy for Germany. Both Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen finished on five points each with a regulation win and a shootout win each.
Wolfsburg U-23 keeper Alexander Brunst was the star of the game, making several key saves in the first half of the match and stopping three of the five Bahia spot kicks in the shootout, including the final two shooters from the Brazilian club. Marcel Reichwein, Marvin Kleihs, and Robert Herrman drilled their penalties for Wolfsburg.
Wolfsburg sent a B squad to the tournament, opting to keep the first team in Europe to continue training for a Bundesliga season that hasn’t gone according to plan. The team that played against Bahia – and beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 2-0, on Sunday – consisted of 18 players from the U-23 team and four players from the club’s U-19 squad. Despite that, the German team had the better possession early, although without creating any dangerous scoring chances from it.
Julian Klamt earned Wolfsburg the game’s first corner just seven minutes in but couldn’t clear the first defender on the set piece.
Bahia then came into the game, using speed to get forwards behind the Wolfsburg center backs and around the fullbacks to create chances. The Brazilian side earned the first shot of the match when Juninho fired a free kick wide from about 35 yards away. Junio sent in the first of several truly dangerous crosses at 15 minutes but it was cleared. A moment later, a long cross nearly found Bahia’s Regis, who attempted an audacious scissor kick, but just missed it.
At the 19-minute mark, Brunst made a huge save on Ze Rafael, who sped past left back Nicolas Abdat and attempted a near-post shot. Brunst made himself big and blocked it out for a corner.
Ten minutes later, the first dangerous chance came for Wolfsburg. Sebastian Wimmer tried a shot from outside the penalty area that dipped but went just over the crossbar, crossing up Bahia goalkeeper Jean. It was Wolfsburg’s best chance of the opening period.
Brunst kept the game level with a huge save on Hernane at 42 minutes and Tiago followed up but was whistled for dangerous play. It wouldn’t have mattered, as Brunst stopped that attempt too. Tempers flared for Tiago playing on but order was quickly restored and no one was booked.
As the first half reached its end, Regis made a nice move to get around Abdat with three teammates in the area but his cross was cut out by defender Robin Ziegele at the last second. One last-gasp attempt came for Wolfsburg with a long-range free kick but the ball sailed harmlessly out for a goal kick and the teams were scoreless at the break.
The young German team turned the game around after halftime, seeing more possession and generating scoring chances against a tired-looking Bahia over the second 45 minutes. Just three minutes after the break, Wimmer got a head on a long throw-in but his effort was blocked by the defense. Seven minutes later, Wimmer nearly got his head to a free kick but it was just inches over him.
Wolfsburg kept coming. Robin Ziegele missed a half-volley opportunity off a Herrman cross on a corner kick in the 65th minute. Just 11 minutes later, the Germans nearly got on the scoreboard when Kleihs smashed a long shot off the right post off a short corner pass from Herrmann.
Bahia finally got another shot off in the 85th minute but second-half substitute Mario sent it well off target. Renato Caja got a late opportunity to give Bahia the lead in the 87th minute with a free kick from just outside the box on the right side. He blasted a cannon shot wide of the far post with his effort.
Shortly thereafter, the full time whistle blew and the game headed to a deciding penalty shootout.
- Wolfsburg: Marcel Reichwein (goal), Bahia: Gustavo (saved).
- Wolfsburg: Kleihs (saved), Bahia: Kaynan (goal).
- Wolfsburg: Wimmer (post), Bahia: Edson (goal).
- Woflsburg: Abdat (goal), Bahia: Caja (saved).
- Wolfsburg: Herrman (goal), Bahia: Feijao (saved).
The FC Challenge portion of the 2017 Florida Cup resumes Saturday at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, as the Tampa Bay Rowdies host Atletico Mineiro, which lost 1-0 last night to Bayer Leverkusen. Bahia will take on Estudiantes on Sunday at 4:45 p.m. at UCF’s Bright House Networks Stadium. Discount tickets are available to readers of The Mane Land for the UCF double-header.
That FC Challenge match will be preceded by an FC Playoff Florida Cup match between River Plate (Argentina) and Millonarios (Colombia) at 2 p.m. Another FC Playoff game takes place at 2 p.m. in Central Broward Stadium as Vasco da Gama (Brazil) takes on Barcelona SC (Ecuador).