Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig got their Bundesliga campaign off to a stuttering start, with a 1-1 draw away at Stuttgart on Sunday despite a clinical first-half strike from French forward Christopher Nkunku.
Despite 68 percent possession and chalking up 27 shots to Stuttgart’s 11, Leipzig were unable to convert their dominance into an opening day win.
Leipzig got on the board in the eighth minute through Nkunku, who threaded a shot past the outstretched hands of Stuttgart keeper Florian Mueller and into the bottom left corner.
Fresh off being named Germany’s footballer of the year for his contributions in the 2021-22 season, Nkunku was dangerous throughout, often dropping back well into his own half to retrieve the ball and kickstart an attack.
Leipzig dominated the early stages, before the home side got a goal back against the run of play through former Juventus midfielder Naouirou Ahamada.
Ahamada curled the ball into the bottom corner of the net in the 31st minute, celebrating even before the ball went in.
Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco made several attacking changes in the dying stages of the match as the visitors went in search of a winner, bringing on striker Alexander Soerloth and Emil Forsberg in the 85th minute.
After the match, Tedesco lauded the performance of opposing keeper Mueller.
“We didn’t score goals. That was somewhat down to us, but also to the opposing goalkeeper,” Tedesco told broadcaster DAZN.
“We have to live with it.”
Stuttgart’s American coach Pellegrino Matarazzo said his side, who narrowly escaped relegation on the final matchday last season, had picked up a “slightly lucky but not undeserved point”.
– Cologne up and running –
In Sunday’s late game, Cologne overcame the news that star striker Anthony Modeste had signed with Borussia Dortmund moments before kick-off to defeat 10-man Schalke 3-1 at home.
Schalke midfielder Dominick Drexler was red-carded in the 35th minute for sinking his studs into the calf of Cologne’s Jonas Hector.
The newly promoted Royal Blues managed to hold on until half-time, before conceding three times in the second half.
Borussia Dortmund junior Luca Kilian latched onto a Hector cross to score Cologne’s first in the 49th minute, before Florian Kainz took advantage of a fumble from Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow to score the home side’s second in the 62nd minute.
Schalke pulled one back when Marius Buelter superbly headed in a cross in the 76th minute, but Cologne extinguished the visitors’ hopes just four minutes later when Dejan Ljubicic headed in his side’s third.
Speaking after the match, Kilian said he felt “pure pleasure” in scoring against Schalke, the bitter rivals of his former club Dortmund.
“To score against Schalke feels especially good, for someone who was born in Dortmund. Nothing has ever tasted so good.”
Cologne reportedly pocketed a five million euro ($5.1 million) transfer fee for Modeste, who scored 20 goals last season to propel Cologne to seventh place and a maiden Europa Conference League appearance.