Mario Gomez's penalty goal helped Wolfsburg beat local rivals Braunschweig 1-0 in the first leg of the Bundesliga relegation playoffs.

The Wolves take a one-goal advantage going into the second leg on Monday as Gomez's controversial handball goal on Thursday was enough to narrowly down Braunschweig in the Lower Saxony derby, reports Xinhua news agency.

Wolfsburg settled early in the game and worked out the first chance of the game with two minutes played when Luiz Gustavo missed Yunus Malli's cross at the far post.

The hosts remained in control of the proceedings but neither Gomez nor Daniel Didavi was able to overcome Braunschweig's goalkeeper Jasmin Fejzic.

The Lions almost flabbergasted Wolfsburg, but Mirko Boland failed to head home from very close range following Christoffer Nyman's pin-point cross into the box 22 minutes into the match.

However, Wolfsburg remained unimpressed by the best chance of the game as Mario Gomez converted a handball penalty, sending goalkeeper Fejzic into the wrong corner to open the scoring in the 35th minute.

The top-flight team should have added another goal to their lead but Didavi was unable to tap home from a sharp angle before Fejzic scratched Gomez' header from the goal line in the 55th minute.

Lower league side Braunschweig stood firm but lacked in penetration to snatch a draw on the road as Wolfsburg protected their narrow one-goal lead to the end.

"I am satisfied with our performance, although we should have scored one goal in the first half when we had the chance. We still have one game to spare," Braunschweig coach Torsten Lieberknecht said.

"It was a contested encounter. We didn't play a good game and failed to put the result beyond doubt in the second half. It will be a tough second leg," Wolfsburg coach Andries Jonker said.

Braunschweig will have the chance to turn the tides in the second leg of the relegation playoffs against Wolfsburg on Monday.