After the final whistle, penalties were once again the main topic among observers of the Saturday night game. After the 2-2 draw between VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Mönchengladbach, the main question was why the VAR intervened in the fifth minute of stoppage time when referee Felix Brych did not make a clear mistake in his decision not to whistle a penalty .
Gladbach’s Jonas Hofmann had a clear opinion on this and angrily described it as “absolute cheek” that the video referee became active. Rami Bensebaini hugged Saša Kalajdzic, but he fell through the simultaneous contact with a teammate from Stuttgart. “It’s not even a foul in midfield,” said Christoph Kramer. “This is never a clear wrong decision.” Even Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo wasn’t sure whether the VAR had to intervene and when asked if it was a penalty, Kalajdzic said: “Yes and no.”
Both teams went out of their way to confirm that they are some of the most pleasant teams to look at this season
The referee himself then ensured clarity. On the Sky microphone, Brych explained how the penalty kick came about: He did not see on the screen that Kalajdzic stumbled over the foot of the teammate more than being pulled by Bensebaini. Therefore, contrary to his first perception, he assessed the pull as the cause of the fall and gave a penalty. “If you give the penalty straight away, then it has to be accepted. With the intervention of the video referee, remaining doubts remain,” said Brych. And: “Stuttgart can be happy with the penalty.” In any case, Silas Wamangituka converted this penalty to 2-2.
At halftime it was still 1-0 for Gladbach after a penalty that nobody questioned. Lars Stindl had safely converted from the point in the 35th minute after Borna Sosa had easily knocked Stefan Lainer off his feet. VfB would have deserved a draw at halftime as an intermediate result, after all, with Orel Mangala (16th minute) and Nicolas Gonzalez’s header (30th), he had better chances, Breel Embolo had the best chance at the guest than him VfB keeper Gregor Kobel checked with a low shot (15th).
Despite the relative lack of opportunity, both teams did a lot to confirm that they are among the pleasant teams to look at this season. Gladbach showed a pragmatic mix of long balls and beautiful combinations. Stuttgart played with a lot of momentum, but that was sometimes slowed down by the fact that some players loved the ball too much. Mangala in particular could have seen the other players.
In the second half, both teams looked as if they had resolved to increase the meager goal yield of nine goals from the games played so far. That succeeded because Gonzalez used an exact cross from Sosa with a great diving header to equalize in the meantime (58th) and on the other hand Denis Zakaria scored the Gladbacher 2-1 after he had embarrassed his opponent Pascal Stenzel in the sprint duel (61.). Florian Neuhaus almost made it 3-1 with a similarly spectacular solo effort in the 81st minute, but failed because of Kobel. And then came the controversial penalty.
Fans criticize sports director Thomas Hitzlsperger
Meanwhile, Stuttgart supporters showed that they pay close attention to club activities even in ghost game times. In any case, hundreds of stickers were stuck around the stadium with the portrait of Thomas Hitzlsperger emblazoned with the imprint “Spalter”. In the home curve, where the Ultras create a good mood during corona-free times, there was a large banner with the inscription “Sun King 2.0 – do you have a shadow?” attached, which was also aimed at Hitzlsperger’s plans to become president of the VfB.
The current Stuttgart sports director on Friday apologized for the sharpness and tone of the letter with which he had attacked President Claus Vogt hard. The former international does not seem to have smoothed things out with this. But the hope that either Vogt or Hitzlsperger will withdraw their candidacy is likely to come true less quickly than the chance of a revenge from their own team against Gladbach. Both clubs will meet again in two and a half weeks – in the round of 16 of the DFB Cup.