Stuttgart 2-1 Cologne
(Donis 38', Akolo 90+4' — Heintz 77')
Mercedes-Benz Arena, Stuttgart
As if Cologne fans hadn't already endured all the VAR-related hardship they could bear early this season, fate conspired against them in the closing minutes after a frenetic match in Germany's southwest.
A late penalty call in Cologne's favor was overturned with the use of video assistance. Immediately thereafter, Stuttgart's substitute, Chadrac Akolo, sucker-punched the Billy Goats, securing a 2-1 win for the hosts. Cologne, profligate all game, especially in the first half, even missed a good chance for a last-gasp equalizer.
Anastasias Donis opened the scoring with his first since joining Stuttgart, while Cologne defender Dominique Heintz's long-range equalizer is surely a strong early candidate for goal of the weekend. Second-half sub Claudio Pizarro wasn't able to deliver the goods.
The result leaves Cologne rooted to the foot of the table with a solitary point. Stuttgart continue to rack up valuable early-season points on their return to the top flight, moving on to 10.
You can relive the game as it happened below.
— Jörg Schmadtke can't repeat the phrase "obvious wrong decision" often enough in his post-match interview. After several viewings now, the call was a very tough one. Stuttgart would surely have complained just as much had the decision gone the other way.
FULL TIME. Stuttgart claim the winner at the last, Cologne fall victim of VAR once more.
90+5' Chance for Cologne at the other end. Guirassy's volley stopped by Zieler's standing leg.
90+4' GOAL! STUTTGART 2-1 Cologne (Chadrac Akolo). Akolo dribbles across the box, in a manner more messy than Messi, but his deflected shot bobbles past Horn and into the net. Cologne must feel cursed.
90+1' NO PENALTY! Drop ball at the spot of the incident, but dropped into Zieler's hands. On we go. Expect more stoppage time.
90' Guirassy and Aogo collided. Both fell. Looks like Cologne striker initiated the contact.
89' This one's so close that the ref is off to look for himself... Crowd antsy at the delay so late in game.
88' Is that a penalty for Cologne? It is! At least pending VAR. We're not convinced.
83' Goal-saving slide tackle from goal-scorer Heintz, dispossessing Ginczek who was otherwise free on goal.
80' Sub Stuttgart: Donis off, having put in quite a shift, and Daniel Ginczek comes on.
77' GOAL! Stuttgart 1-1 COLOGNE (Dominique Heintz). Pick that one out! A proper screamer from Heintz, left-footed in-swinger into the top corner. Zieler just a spectator. We have an early candidate for goal of the week.
70' Cologne attacking sub Serou Guirassy shows off his trickery and wins a free kick. Meanwhile, Stöger uses his third and last sub, bringing on Tim-Henry Handwerker for Konstantin Rausch.
69' Akolo and Terodde combine at pace, carving Cologne open. Akolo's off-balance first-time shot didn't miss by all that much.
67' Packed house in Stuttgart — 58,716 in attendance.
65' Free kick Stuttgart, Donis tries his luck direct and forces Horn into a sharp save. That was Donis' ninth, yes ninth, shot of the night. Seconds later, he follows it up with a 10th, but can't test Horn again.
63' Konstantin Rausch booked for a shirt tug.
60' Decent back-post delivery from Jojic from a free kick. Claudio Pizarro (climbing all over his marker) rose highest but headed off target. No free kick given, despite Pizarro's fairly obvious misdemeanor, but surely VAR would have ruled it out anyway...
59' An update on Kaminski, who seems to have picked up a nasty knock in the first period.
57' Donis elects to shoot on the break, despite Andreas Beck all alone to his right. To add insult to injury, he lost his balance and missed by miles.
56' Half-chance on the volley for Pizarro. He can't connect properly.
55' Timo Horn forced into a save and can only parry it. But Stuttgart can't make anything of the rebound.
54' Shot from Milos Jojic. "Over the bar" doesn't even begin to do it justice.
51' Both defenses looking a little less lackadaisical now, presumably after half-time grillings in the dressing room. Stuttgart with the first chance of the half from a corner.
Second half begins
It's Pizarro time, people. Claudio Pizarro will take to the pitch in the second half, replacing midfielder Özcan. Zoller might move to the flank to make space.
HT analysis: What a roller-coaster of a first half. Cologne absolutely dominated the first half hour, generating chance after chance but rarely even managing to hit the target. In the closing 15 minutes or so, the pendulum swung in Stuttgart's favor. Briefly they were looking just as profligate, until Donis managed to open his Stuttgart account one-on-one against Timo Horn. Cologne strikers Yuya Osako and Simon Zoller made a very strong case for the introduction of Claudio Pizarro in the second half.
38' GOAL! STUTTGART 1-0 Cologne (Anastasias Donis). Finally! Donis' first for Stuttgart since joining from Juventus. Great feed from Terodde, Donis shakes off the last man and finds the gap between Horn's legs. Still hard to blame Cologne keeper Timo Horn. Given Cologne's chances in the first half hour, Peter Stöger must despair.
36' Yet more penalty area scenes! Several chances all at once for Stuttgart, Horn's reflex save to deny the second was particularly impressive. How is this still goalless?
34' From the ensuing free kick, Holger Badstuber has a great headed opportunity from eight yards out. He's off target too. Lip readers out there might have enjoyed his reaction. Even though you'd understand what he said (it was in English), we can't print it.
33' Cologne's defensive Dane Frederik Sörenson booked for a foul.
31' Apparently it's contagious... A gilt-edged chance for Stuttgart's Donis, and he can't even hit the target. Maybe he's been taking lessons from Osako and Zoller.
27' Distance shot from Cologne, Matthias Lehmann strikes it well, but just a tad too high. Hannes Wolf would be delighted to make half time all square on the evidence so far.
25' Any volunteers to help Cologne hit a barn door? Simon Zoller is the latest to pull the trigger from close range. He can't test Zieler either. Cologne's "xG" must be through the roof already, still goalless.
24' Free kick Stuttgart, Dennis Aogo tries his luck. Much too high.
22' Watching Leonardo Bittencourt play is tortuous. Such a technically gifted player, but he makes such poor decisions. Just turned Stuttgart's defense inside out, then dallied on the ball and let the chance go to waste. Two minutes before that, he had skipped to the byline, only to put much too much weight on his cross.
18' Early sub Stuttgart due to injury. Andreas Beck is on for Marcen Kaminski
17' Yuya, Yuya, Yuya... How many bites at the cherry do you need? Great move from Cologne set in motion by a splendid vertical pass from Konstantin Rausch. Osako had two chances from close in, Zieler smothered them both.
14' So far at least, Cologne aren't looking like the visitors here. Stuttgart short on movement and options when on the ball. The Billy Goats looking much more direct and ambitious, also putting extreme and early pressure on their opponents once dispossessed.
11' First serious chance for Stuttgart. Anastasias Donis rifles it over the bar.
4' CHANCE! Yuya Osako from close in after a cross from the right. He fires it wide of the near post. Really should have made Zieler work.
2' Cologne on the front foot early. But Yuya Osako's attempted low cross is much too close to Ron-Robert Zieler in goal.
2' Early half-chance for Cologne, but Konstantin Rausch's first-time right-footed shot is blocked.
— As for Stuttgart, Simon Terodde is up front and Pizarro's erstwhile teammate Holger Badstuber will marshal the defense. Terodde is one of three changes made by Hannes Wolf following the 2-1 defeat in Frankfurt, replacing Daniel Ginczek. Orel Mangala and Josip Brekalo also rotate into the XI, at the expense of Andreas Beck and Akolo Chadrac.
— Half an hour until the match gets started. Time to have a look at the line-ups. New acquisition Claudio Pizarro (quite a scoop as a free agent, despite his advancing years) is not in Cologne's starting XI, but he is on the bench. Zoller and Osako will lead the line, with a lot of the creative duties likely falling to Leo Bittencourt and Milos Jojic.
— Here's an excerpt from coach Peter Stöger's pre-game press conference, in which he said that the buck ultimately stops with him. However, he also appealed to the players to do their part on the pitch.
— Good evening. Welcome back to the Bundesliga action. It's a big night for Peter Stöger. His Cologne side has just one point so far this season, after overachieving in the previous campaign. As unthinkable as it would have seemed in the summer, the Cologne coach is under real pressure to get the season started. And to pile on the misery, four of Cologne's league games this month will be played on the road, like tonight's match in Stuttgart.