Wolfsburg remain on course to reach the Champions League round of 16 after substitute Andre Schurrle’s double earned a 2-0 win away to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.
Defeat for the Russian side eliminates them from the competition and they were the architects of their own downfall as goalkeeper and captain Igor Akinfeev’s painful individual error saw him concede for the 36th European match in succession – Schurrle the beneficiary.
Schurrle added a second in the 88th minute to make sure of all three points for the Bundesliga side.
The away win sees Wolfsburg climb to first place in Group B on nine points, two ahead of Manchester United and three ahead of PSV ahead of their match at Old Trafford later in the day.
CSKA remain bottom on four points and are left to contend for a place in the Europa League round of 32 by finishing third, provided PSV do not win at Old Trafford later on Tuesday.
A scrappy start to the game produced few decent chances, Bas Dost heading narrowly wide after meeting Christian Trasch’s cross from the right flank seven minutes in.
CSKA were made to wait until the 26th minute for their first sight of goal, Alan Dzagoev sending Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio scrambling with a good shot from outside the area.
Naldo had to be alert five minutes later after his centre-back partner and fellow Brazilian Dante, receiving a heavy pass from left-back Marcel Schafer, gave the ball away in a dangerous area with Seydou Doumbia lurking.
Dost should have given the visitors the lead in the 33rd minute, but he failed to connect with Schafer’s dangerous ball across the face of goal from the left.
Ahmed Musa then shot wide of the near post from inside the area, but it was Wolfsburg who looked the more threatening of the two sides, Max Kruse stinging the palms of Akinfeev with nine minutes remaining in the half, following good work by Schafer and Dost.
CSKA began the second half with more purpose, and Zoran Tosic came within inches of giving the hosts the lead in the 62nd minute, hitting the crossbar after being teed up by Dzagoev on the edge of the Wolfsburg area.
Failing to capitalise on their improved showing proved costly for CSKA when the visitors took the lead against the run of play in the 67th minute.
Left-back Kirill Nababkin failed to clear Dante’s long ball, allowing Schurrle to gather possession on the right side of the penalty area and fire a shot across the face of goal which appeared to going wide, only for Akinfeev to make a mess of his attempted save and deflect the ball across the line.
The hosts’ hopes were extinguished two minutes from time as Schurrle drilled home from just inside the area, eliminating CSKA from the competition and putting Wolfsburg in command of their fate ahead of a matchday six meeting with United.