Schalke beaten in Bundesliga return

Christopher Nkunku of RB Leipzig, Dani Olmo of RB Leipzig and Josha Vagnoman of VfB Stuttgart battle for the ball during the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and RB Leipzig at Mercedes-Benz Arena on August 7, 2022 in Stuttgart, Germany.

German Cup winners Leipzig have made a frustrating start to the new Bundesliga campaign, held to a 1-1 draw at Stuttgart.

Christopher Nkunku started as he finished last season with the opening goal in just nine minutes on Sunday but Naouirou Ahamada netted a lovely equaliser before the break.

Leipzig had the better of the chances to seal three points but Stuttgart, who only narrowly retained top-flight status, held on to claim a useful draw.

The opening weekend concluded with Schalke losing on their return to the top division, 3-1 at Cologne, after having three video assistant referee (VAR) calls go against them.

Nkunku, the 2021/22 Bundesliga player of the year, finished clinically from Dani Olmo’s flick after Benjamin Henrichs had split the defence.

Home keeper Florian Mueller made the first of several good saves from a Lukas Klostermann header and Stuttgart levelled in 31 minutes when Ahamada found the bottom corner from a one-two with Sasa Kalajdzic.

“We had many chanes,” Henrichs told DAZN.

“It feels like Stuttgart who at goal once and at the end it’s 1-1. It feels like a defeat.”

Konstantinos Mavropanos rattled the post for Stuttgart on the stroke of halftime and Josha Vagnoman shanked wide as they restarted better from the interval.

Leipzig regained their composure to press for a winner but Mueller denied Nkunku and then somehow clawed out Willi Orban’s late header on the line to keep them out.

“If you look at the whole game, we have deserved the point,” Stuttgart sport chief Sven Mislintat, who admitted Mueller had a “superb day” in goal, said.

Schalke needed only 10 minutes to find the net again in the Bundesliga, after a single season in the second division, but Rodrigo Zalazar’s rocket was disallowed as a teammate was offside.

And matters further turned against them when Dominick Drexler was red carded for a poor challenge on Jonas Hector.

Cologne finally went in front in the 50th minute when Luca Kilian converted a clever corner.

Florian Kainz doubled the lead when Alexander Schwolow fumbled a cross and though Marius Buelter’s fine header briefly gave Schalke hope, the ball rebounding off Schwolow into the net after Dejan Ljubicic headed off the post ended the contest.

The offside goal, the red card and Kainz’s strike were all decided by marginal – though technically correct – VAR decisions, to the annoyance of the promoted side.

“That winds me up,” sporting director Rouven Schroeder said.

“We have been disadvantaged. We need a video assistant, not a head referee.”

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