VfB Stuttgart got off to the perfect start in the ninth minute thanks to two January signings, with Genki Haraguchi teeing up Gil Dias to curl the ball into the far corner. Bruno Labbadia’s charges maintained the tempo and intensity of their play, and in the 26th minute Silas had the chance to extend the team’s lead, only to see his shot roll narrowly wide. Fabian Bredlow was first seriously tested shortly afterwards (29’) but managed to keep the ball out. VfB continued to play well and did not shy away from the tackles in a hard-fought battle against an in-form Köln side. Dias and Konstantinos Mavropanos (41’) both had chances to add their names to the scoresheet before the interval but were unable to make the most of their opportunities.
The second half began in a similarly intensive and engaging fashion. Both teams continued to play on the front foot and after Haraguchi and his Japanese compatriot Wataru Endo each squandered presentable openings, Borna Sosa showed them how it was done in the 59th minute when he curled in a sensational direct free-kick to make it 2-0. VfB threw off the shackles after that and created a number of good chances. Tanguy Coulibaly added gloss to the scoreline moments after coming off the bench when he cut in from the right, with his deflected shot flying into the net (74’) to seal VfB’s victory, their first after a six-game winless run.
9th minute (1-0): After playing a one-two with Haraguchi, Dias curls the ball into the far corner.
59th minute (2-0): Sosa bends a direct free-kick over the wall and under the bar.
74th minute (3-0): Coulibaly cuts in from the right and his deflected shot flies into the net.
Bruno Labbadia, VfB head coach: “We started the game well with a nice goal. After that we had a brief dip but improved again shortly before half-time. We should have made it 2-0 earlier in the game, but overall it’s great that we won. The team needed these three points. The key to the win was that we kept going after making it 1-0. It’s an important step.”
Borna Sosa: “The win will do us a lot of good, especially after the last few weeks where we’ve been playing well but haven’t picked up any points. Today we showed that we want to stay in the Bundesliga. We can compete with any team in this stadium, in front of this crowd. We want to build on this next week.”