Germany: Bundesliga
3 - 0
(1 - 0)
FC Köln
G. Dias (9), B. Sosa (59), T. Coulibaly (74)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Sosa shoots Stuttgart to first league win under Labbadia, ten-man Bayern fall to Gladbach

Two surprise results among the latest set of Bundesliga 15:30 kickoffs provide some huge ramifications for the races at both the top and bottom of the table. 

FC Bayern München were unable to overcome being reduced to ten-men early, ultimately falling 1-2 away at Gladbach. VfB Stuttgart also surprisingly pulled themselves away from the relegation pack with an electrifying 3-0 home win over Köln. 

Shutout wins for Leipzig and Freiburg now ensure that only four points separate first from fifth in the table. Dortmund and 1. FC Union Berlin will both have a chance to take over first-place with wins tomorrow.
Bruno Labbadia's VfB Stuttgart have their first league win of the new calendar year after sending Steffen Baumgart's 1. FC Köln to their first league defeat of the new calendar year. Borna Sosa - who credited Labbadia with being the best trainer he's ever worked under during an interview with Germany's main sporting tabloid this week - came through for the Canstatter with a magnificently executed set-piece goal crucial to the shutout win.

Labbadia made two changes to the XI that lost last week away at Freiburg. After being rested last week due to exhaustion at his own request, Konstantinos Mavropanos returned to the central defensive ranks. Dan-Axel Zagadou - who conceded the two penalties last week in Breisgau - made way for the Greek. Congolese attacker Silas was also deemed fit enough to start, taking the place of Luca Pfeiffer at the center-forward position.

Köln trainer Baumgart had to do without center-back Timo Hübers, suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Nikola Soldo took over for Hübers alongside Julian Chabot. Otherwise, the XI that delivered a shock home win against Frankfurt last week remained unchanged. Baumgart did appear to alter the shape from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2.

The two sides traded chances in the opening ten minutes, with Chris Führich and Silas just missing a connect for the hosts and Florian Kainz firing an effort on target for the guests. Newly acquired Portuguese attacker Gil Dias would ensure that the Cannstatt crew were able to attain an early 1-0 lead with a wonderful finish from about 13 meters on the right in the 9th. Dias played a nice one-two with fellow January acquisition Genki Haraguchi.

The Badeners played with a great deal of confidence after the new duo enabled them to snatch the crucial opener. Köln appeared very unsettled, nearly conceding the 0-2 in the 26th. Matters settled down a bit during the duration of the opening 45, with Stuttgart maintaining a clear optical advantage. The 1-0 scoreline held at the break.

Köln - freshen up by a double change from Baumgart at the half - were gifted a wonderful opportunity to get back into the game when Mavropanos fouled Steffen Tiger just outside the area seven minutes after the restart. Kainz managed to curl the ensuing 53rd-minute free-kick around the wall, but VfB keeper Fabian Bredlow ended up making an easy save in the end.

After the squandered chance, Labbadia's Württembergers really turned up the heat and one felt that a decisive second goal would be not long in coming. After a sustained spell of pressure, Croatian fullback Borna Sosa was able to net the 2-0 from his own dead-ball opportunity. Sosa curled the ball beautifully over the wall from about the same distance Kainz did. Sosa's 59th-minute set piece banged in underneath the crossbar.

Seemingly forgotten former flanking powerhouse Tanguy Couliubably sealed the win with the 3-0 in the 74th. Coulibaly's first league goal since December 2020 helped the Swabians commemorate their first home shutout victory since April 2021 at the Mercedes Benz Arena. The result pulls the team out of the relegation places, with only Hertha BSC having a chance to overtake with an improbable win against Dortmund tomorrow.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, Julian Nagelsmann's record champions found themselves reduced to ten-men after Dayot Upamecano was sent off for denying Alassane Plea a clear goal-scoring opportunity in the 8th during their trip to Gladbach. BMG skipper Lars Stindl soon gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 14th with a brilliant finish off a nice set-piece design.

Bayern being Bayern, however, meant that the defending champs had no real plans of playing as if they were shorthanded. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was able to snatch an equalizer ten minutes before the break, polishing off a rather nice series of moves and cutback from Alphonso Davies. Jonas Hofmann restored the lead shortly after the restart.

With Bayern taking more risks, Marcus Thuram was able to score the 3-1 shortly before the start of injury time. Mathys Tel pulled back a late consolation goal shortly before the full-time whiste.

The upset win constitutes big news for struggling Gladbach. Daniel Farke's foals earn just their second victory of the new calendar year. Thuram records his first goal since the campaign's 15th matchday back in November.

Over at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion on the Castroper Straße, VfL Bochum's home winning streak came to an end against visiting SC Freiburg. The Revierklub also found themselves reduced to ten-men courtesy of a red card for captain Anthony Losilla in the 63rd. Christian Striech's Breisgauer had the game well at hand by that point. A 2-0 scoreline held after the sending off.

RB Leipzig were also able to blank their opponents. Marco Rose's German Red Bulls avenged their defeat last week against Union Berlin and immediately got back on track with a 3-0 win away at Wolfsburg. Christopher Nkunku made his long awaited return to a Bundesliga pitch and garnered an assist on Konrad Laimer's 2-0 in the 85th.

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