A couple of meanwhile slightly obese and also greyish gentlemen had entered the lawn in the Stuttgart Arena before the game. Parts of the championship team from 1992 around world champion Guido Buchwald should bring luck to VfB Stuttgart on Saturday. A win against 1. FC Köln with a simultaneous loss of Hertha BSC at Borussia Dortmund would save the traditional Swabian club from going into relegation.
And luck was on VfB’s side like it was 30 years ago almost to the day. He defeated Köln 2-1 with a goal in added time, while BVB came out on top late in the game against rivals Hertha who remain in the league.
“It’s unbelievable how the stadium exploded after the second goal. I couldn’t be happier,” said winner Wataru Endo. “We made it together. The fans cheered us on incredibly and brought us back once more. Thanks for the support.”
From a Swabian perspective, the encounter had already started wonderfully in front of almost 60,000 spectators. VfB pressed Cologne down in their half of the game right after kick-off. The logical consequence was the lead by the very conspicuous attacker Sasa Kalajdzic in the 12th minute. Shortly before, the Austrian had missed a penalty. Speaking of converting chances: As so often this season, this was the problem for Stuttgart on Saturday. It could have jumped out a lot more at halftime. However, Endo (34th/36th) and Tiago Tomás (45th +2) missed the greatest opportunities for a more comfortable lead.
But the Cologne team stayed in the game. And once again the old football adage comes true that such inability will be punished at some point. Cologne striker Anthony Modeste used a catastrophic goalkeeping error by Florian Müller to equalize in the 59th minute. It was the Cologne striker’s 20th goal of the season in the league.
After that, the two teams went back and forth. The Stuttgart wanted to avoid relegation, and the Cologne in the Europa League. But either the outstanding Marvin Schwäbe in the Cologne goal prevented the impact (as against Omar Marmoush in the 82nd minute) or some defender’s leg cleared both sides at the last moment.
When everyone in the stadium slowly got the impression that fate wouldn’t allow any more goals, someone did: VfB captain Endo headed in in the 92nd minute to make it 2-1.
After that, all the dams broke. Even the stewards couldn’t stop the crowd of spectators on the lawn. Many were waiting for the team, who initially did not want to return from the catacombs because of the dense crowd.
The emotions really turned somersaults in the followers as well as in those directly involved. The new VfB CEO Alexander Wehrle was carried on his hands in the stadium, then fought his way through to the interview with the broadcaster Sky. Once there, after a few words, he hugged the reporter several times. “These are emotions, it’s hard to put into words,” he said, and roared, “Yeah!” (Tsp with dpa)