Two penalties, no winner: VfB Stuttgart and Bayer Leverkusen drew 1-1 (0-0) in an even match. The Swabians missed out on an important victory in the fight against relegation in Sunday's home game in front of 46,300 spectators and are in 17th place in the table ahead of the remaining two matchdays of the Bundesliga. Bayer suffered another setback three days after the 0-1 defeat in the Europa League semi-final first leg at AS Roma and can only reach the Conference League via the league.
Top scorer Serhou Guirassy, on loan from French club Stade Rennes, gave Stuttgart the lead in the 57th minute with a foul penalty. Leverkusen's Argentinian world champion Exequiel Palacios, who was responsible for the penalty, also scored the equaliser with a foul penalty (70th).
Stuttgart, where the tackling midfielder Atakan Karazor returned to the starting line-up after serving a yellow card, were initially keen not to run into a Leverkusen counterattack. After all, coach Sebastian Hoeneß had explicitly pointed out the speed of Bayer's attacking forces before the game. Only gradually did the hosts move their game a little further forward. Overall, however, there were hardly any highlights in the low-tempo first half.
Bayer without danger
Leverkusen had more possession, but no brilliant ideas offensively. Sardar Azmoun couldn't get his foot right on a sharp pass from Moussa Diaby (8th), a free-kick from Kerem Demirbay was difficult for Edmond Tapsoba to take (25th). The Werkself, with international Florian Wirtz initially sitting out, didn't manage more in the first 45 minutes. On the Stuttgart side, Wataru Endo hit the ball once free-standing (17th) and just under 20 minutes later Guirassy clearly missed from the second row.
Even in the first minutes of the second half, the picture did not change much: Bayer dominated without becoming dangerous. VfB, who had suffered a major setback in the battle to stay in the league with a 1-2 defeat at bottom-of-the-table Hertha BSC a week earlier, shied away from the risk.
Then Leverkusen's Palacios involuntarily helped the Swabians to take the lead. The Argentinian fouled VfB captain Endo on the edge of the penalty area, referee Frank Willenborg decided on a penalty. Guirassy stepped up – and chipped the ball nonchalantly and half-high into the middle of the goal to make it 1-0. The striker scored for the tenth time this Bundesliga season and in his third game in a row.
Guest coach Xabi Alonso reacted and brought in the attacking Wirtz for the defensive Mitchel Bakker. However, Bayer also needed a penalty to equalise. After a tough effort by VfB goalkeeper Fabian Bredlow against Leverkusen defender Edmond Tapsoba and a long review of the video images, Palacios scored confidently into the bottom left corner to make it 1-1.