Nicolas Gonzalez scored his first Bundesliga goal of the season as VfB Stuttgart came from behind to draw 1-1 away to Schalke in the Matchday 6 curtain-raiser on Friday.
Riding high in fifth place at kick-off and averaging two goals per game, visitors Stuttgart immediately set out to unnerve what has so far been a shaky Schalke defence. Tanguy Coulibaly was full of trickery and menace down the right, and Mateo Klimowicz had the first sight of goal, collecting Gonzalo Castro's incisive pass and snapping a shot just wide of the post. Home goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow was grateful to punch Pascal Stenzel's swerving long-range effort out for a corner, before Klimowicz made a nuisance of himself again, teasing an inviting ball across the face of goal that evaded everyone in a white shirt. The Royal Blues grew into the match and played with greater purpose going forward than at the start of the season. Although they struggled to break Stuttgart down from open play, they managed to take the lead from a set piece when Malick Thiaw peeled away at the back post to head in Amine Harit's free-kick.
Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo reacted at half-time, bringing on Gonzalez up front for Sasa Kalajdzic, and the move immediately gave the visitors greater thrust. It was the Argentinian who levelled the scores too, confidently stroking in from the penalty spot after Salif Sane had handled his glancing header. That equaliser further energized Stuttgart, who went close to taking the lead when Mark Uth was forced to scoop Coulibaly's header off the line, before Borna Sosa forced a diving save from Rönnow with a low drive, and Gonzalez headed narrowly over. Groggy from the repeated body blows, Schalke looked laboured going forward, wary of exposing themselves in defence, and a Thiaw header from a free-kick that was comfortably saved was their only attack of note in the second period. Yet try as Stuttgart might, with Sosa volleying over and Castro drawing a save at full stretch from Rönnow, they could not get the winner their pressure deserved and had to settle for a point.
- Schalke took the lead in a game for the first time this season.
- Thiaw's strike was his first ever Bundesliga goal, coming in just his sixth top-flight outing
- Harit's assist was the first time he has been directly involved in a goal in 2020.
- Gonzalez's spot-kick was the league-high fourth penalty awarded against Schalke this season. Since summer 2019, all 10 penalties against the Royal Blues have been scored.
- It was also the first penalty Gonzalez has taken in Germany's top flight.
- Schalke's unwanted winless run now stands at 22 league games without victory.
Watch: Thiaw: "A dream come true"
Schalke: Rönnow - Thiaw, Sane, Nastastic (Bentaleb 70') - Ludewig, Mascarell (c), Bozdogan (Schöpf 84'), Oczipka - Harit - Paciencia, Uth (Raman 84')
Unused subs: Langer, Mendyl, Stambouli, Ibisevic, Matondo, Skrzybski
Out: Fährmann (groin), Kabak (suspended), Serdar (thigh)
Coach: Manuel Baum
Stuttgart: Kobel - Stenzel, Karazor, Kempf - Coulibaly (Churlinov 79'), Mangala, Endo, Sosa (Silas 75') - Klimowicz (Klement 75'), Castro (c) (Förster 90'+1) - Kalajdzic (Gonzalez 46')
Unused subs: Bredlow, Anton, Kaminski, Didavi
Out: Awoudja (Achilles tendon), Massimo (knee), Mavropanos (knee), Mola (hip), Thommy (elbow)
Coach: Pellegrino Matarazzo