Germany: Bundesliga
1 - 1
(1 - 1)
RB Leipzig
By Ultan Corcoran@UltanCorcoran

Stuttgart and Leipzig inseparable in lively 1-1 draw

Nkunku opened the scoring early, before Ahamada levelled matters, while a fine string of Florian Muller saves salvaged a point for a spirited Stuttgart.
After a heroic campaign last season in which the Swabian side battled furiously to avoid the drop, VfB Stuttgart welcomed Champions League regulars RB Leipzig to the sun-soaked Mercedes-Benz Arena to kick start both side’s 2022-23 Bundesliga journeys. A daunting task lay ahead of Matarazzo’s charges ahead of kick-off who have failed beat Leipzig in any of their eight previous Bundesliga encounters (D1 L7).

Despite a lively VfB start, Leipzig drew first blood and who else other than last year’s Bundesliga Player of the Season, Christopher Nkunku, made the breakthrough inside 7 minutes. Dani Olmo’s heavy touch fell somewhat fortuitously into the path of his French teammate who thundered a ferocious left-footed strike across Muller inside the right-hand upright giving Tedesco’s men an early lead. Klostermann almost doubled his side’s advantage minutes later but for a fine Florian Muller save to force a corner.

Silas appeared to come desperately close for the hosts on 17 minutes, prodding the ball wide, however the Congolese fouled Orban in the build-up. Fuhrich fired through a crowd in the following act, but Gulacsi dealt with the tricky shot comfortably. Die Schwaben was beginning to grow in the game and managed to pull level just after the half hour mark. Naouirou Ahamada, who last played for the VfB first team against RB two seasons ago, linked up with Kalajdzic on the edge of the box to play the perfect one-two before expertly bending his effort into the bottom right corner beyond the outstretched Gulacsi for 1-1.

As the half advanced, confidence began to grow, and Stuttgart were quickly becoming the dominant side. Centre-half Mavropanos dashed forward one of his trademark runs which almost resulted in a goal but for the post to agonisingly deny the Greek defender, subsequently sparing Leipzig’s blushes – the score remained level at the break.

Once more, Stuttgart began in a similar fashion to how they closed out the first half – dominating chances and possession for the opening 10 minutes. Tedesco was even forced into utilising his bench in a bid to swing things in RB’s favour, with Kampl making way for Szoboszlai offering greater attacking prowess.

Leipzig finally tested Muller again on 65 minutes – a swift move resulted in Silva teeing up Nkunku inside the box, but RB’s goal scorer could only direct his shot down the throat of Muller who dealt with it accordingly. Six minutes later and Florian Muller was forced into action again. Heinrichs’ delightfully lofted cross found the towering Orban who angled his header downwards, only to be denied by the Stuttgart goalkeeper’s sublime reactions.

Attempts on goal began to rain in for the visitors as they threw caution to the wind and pushed for that all important goal. Nonetheless, Stuttgart’s rear guard stood firm, denying RB’s talented attack of any real goalscoring opportunities. Six minutes of additional time was welcomed with a resounding groan from the home supporters, as Nkunku fashioned another chance for Szoboszlai who narrowly fired wide. Honours even in the end as Stuttgart take a huge point, while Leipzig will no doubt feel disappointed with their start to the campaign.

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