At the last minute, VfB Stuttgart made it to the finish line and can plan another year in the Bundesliga. Wataru Endo beheads his team in the 2-1 win over 1. FC Köln – then the fans tear the stadium apart.
Well over an hour after the end of the game, the stadium announcement had to ask the fans again and again to return to their seats. In the end, she even warned of danger to life and deaths, as the masses were still crowded by the thousands and pulled on the ball nets. The interior had long since looked like a demolition party. The goals collapsed, the substitutes’ benches splintered, the turf torn up and plastered with beer mugs. The club from 1893 has never experienced such an escalation of the fans. Not after the German championships, not after promotions or successful rescues. This Saturday topped everything.
VfB Stuttgart defeated 1. FC Köln 2-1 (1-0) on Matchday 34 thanks to a last-minute goal from captain Wataru Endo in injury time. His header after a corner kick allowed VfB to slip to a saving 15th place at the very last moment. At the same time, Hertha BSC lost 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund and now has to go into relegation instead of VfB.
Read from our offer: Our individual review of the game
“Never again second division,” was the constant voice from the Cannstatt curve as the team celebrated once more and cheered their captain. “I’m breaking down inside right now,” Sasa Kalajdzic stammered on the lap of honour. Waldemar Anton had at least got his head together enough to come back to the crucial point of the previous 90 minutes: “We believed in ourselves until the end.”
Read from our offer: Voices about the game
The end marked the second minute of stoppage time. Borna Sosa kicked a final corner kick. Hiroki Ito extended the ball from the first post, Endo rushed in from behind and headed the ball under the bar. A winning goal that many no longer thought possible. The hosts’ final attempts to attack got too hectic when the Berlin deficit came around after 84 minutes and brought the stadium to a boil.
Read from our plus offer: Our comment on the successful rescue
For a long time, the Cologne team were even closer to 2-1 in the second half than VfB, who had lost their game in the first 45 minutes. But Kalajdzic (12th) did not score more than one goal. The Austrian missed a penalty just before his header from a corner kick. And, together with his teammates, missed chance after chance for a more comfortable lead. It was 1-0 at the break, the same result that put the competitor from Berlin in the lead at the same time. After the change, VfB had to pay tribute to the fast pace of the first half in the sold-out arena. Effzeh came into play better – and equalized after 59 minutes. Goalkeeper Florian Müller let a harmless cross slip through his hands, Cologne striker Anthony Modeste thanked him with the 1-1.
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The relegation seemed firmly booked for VfB. Before goalkeeper Müller stormed forward at the last corner and had his share of the winning goal. The rest was ecstasy. “You can’t put that into words,” Pellegrino Matarazzo tried to explain, which couldn’t be explained. He hadn’t even seen who scored the goal and immediately ran across the pitch and was buried under a knot of cheering players. But it wasn’t over yet, a few anxious minutes followed – in Stuttgart as well as in Dortmund. Because this game wasn’t over yet. At 5:29 p.m., all the dams finally broke – this was followed by a pitch storm, at the end of which one could be happy that “only” the inventory broke and nobody else were able to say goodbye in front of the fans in an hour. When the coach was asked about the future in the obligatory press conference, the American ran out of words. “I do not know. My head is empty.”