Taking no chances
There was little to get the pulses racing initially as VfB Stuttgart hosted Bayer Leverkusen, with a chance for Mitchell Bakker in the seventh minute one of few highlights. The UEFA Europa League semi-finalists found it tough going against a well-drilled Stuttgart side, who defended resolutely but only attacked cautiously. Wataru Endo had VfB’s first sight of goal on 18 minutes following a cross from Silas, but otherwise the tempo of the game remained slow as both teams adopted a safety-first approach. Serhou Guirassy had a long-range effort in the 37th minute, but the match was scoreless at the break.
The second period began in a similarly reserved fashion, although gradually VfB started investing more going forward. One such move ended in Endo being felled inside the box, resulting in a penalty for VfB that Guirassy duly dispatched (57’). The lead didn’t last long, however, as Exequiel Palacios also scored a penalty to equalise (70’). The match opened up in the closing stages, with Josha Vagnoman only centimetres away from providing an instant reply (72’), while Edmond Tabsoba was thwarted by Fabian Bredlow at the other end (80’). Both teams pushed for a winner as the final whistle approached, but the encounter ultimately ended in a draw.
57th minute (1-0): Guirassy steps up and strokes the ball down the middle for the opening goal.
70th minute (1-1): Palacios converts to equalise for Leverkusen.
VfB head coach Sebastian Hoeneß: “For us the focus was on controlling Leverkusen’s fastest players and to keep a cool head with the score still at 0-0. Our plan worked up until our goal to make it 1-0, but then we conceded the equaliser from a situation that we really shouldn’t have let in a goal from. After that we unfortunately weren’t able to take our chances to make it 2-1. I’m very pleased with the performance but not with the result. We’ll do everything we can again next week in Mainz and then we’ll see at the end of the season what today’s point gets us.”