Stuttgart miss chance to cut gap to Bayern with Cologne draw

AFP , Saturday 24 Feb 2024

Stuttgart were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Cologne on Saturday, missing the chance to move to within one point of second-placed Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

Stuttgart s Josha Vagnoman, centre, fights for the ball with Cologne s players Julian Chabot, left, and Eric Martel during the Bundesliga soccer match between VfB Stuttgart and 1. FC K ln at the MHPArena in Stuttgart, Germany, Saturday Feb. 24, 2024. AP


Stuttgart were without injured Brighton loanee Deniz Undav, who had scored five goals in his past four league games, picking up the slack from striker Serhou Guirassy, who has only recently returned to club action after the Africa Cup of Nations.

Stuttgart took the lead in the 53rd minute, Enzo Millot finishing off the type of well-worked team move which has become the hallmark of Sebastian Hoeness' side this season.

Cologne drew level nine minutes later, though, Eric Martel tapping in after being left unmarked at the far post from a free-kick.

After needing to win a two-legged relegation play-off to stay in the top division last campaign, Stuttgart have been this season's Bundesliga surprise packages and stay third after the draw.

They sit seven points ahead of fifth-placed RB Leipzig, who visit Bayern later on Saturday, as they bid to return to the Champions League for the first time since 2010.

Elsewhere, Union Berlin drew 2-2 at home to Heidenheim.

The visitors forged ahead through Nikola Dovedan on just three minutes thanks to a defensive blunder from Union.

Germany left-back Robin Gosens drew Union level in the 44th minute, sending an ungainly shot across the face of goal and into the net, moments before Andras Schafer gave the hosts the lead.

Heidenheim, who are surprisingly within touching distance of the European placings in their first top-flight season, equalised through Jan-Niklas Beste, who chipped the ball home after a counter-attack.

Borussia Moenchengladbach thumped Bochum 5-2 at home, picking up a crucial three points to move eight clear of the relegation play-off spot.

Darmstadt went within inches of a third win of the season, having two goals chalked off in the dying stages in a 1-1 draw at Werder Bremen.

The result keeps Darmstadt dead last on 13 points.

Later on Saturday, under-pressure Bayern need a win at home against Leipzig to keep their slim hopes of staying in the title race with Xabi Alonso's league leaders Bayer Leverkusen alive.

Leverkusen's 2-1 win over Mainz on Friday took Alonso's men 11 points clear of a struggling Bayern who are hoping to avoid suffering four straight losses for the first time since 1991.

Bayern on Wednesday announced coach Thomas Tuchel would leave the club in the summer.

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