Wataru Endo headed home in the 92nd-minute winner to give VfB Stuttgart a 2-1 win over Cologne that, paired with Hertha Berlin's defeat at Borussia Dortmund, keeps VfB in the Bundesliga next season.
Going into the final chapter of the 2021/22 campaign, both sides still had plenty to play for at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Stuttgart started the day in the relegation play-off spot, while Cologne arrived with a UEFA Europa Conference League place secured but in the hope of upgrading that to a Europa League berth next campaign. The relegation-threatened hosts started the brightest and Tiago Tomas had already drawn the first save of the match before he was hauled down inside the box, but Sasa Kalajdzic's subsequent spot-kick was superbly tipped over by the outstretched hand of Marvin Schwäbe. Kalajdzic immediately made amends, though, emphatically heading home Chris Führich's resulting corner to give VfB a deserved lead. They should have been further in front before the break but Endo, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Tomas were all denied.
The Billy Goats emerged from the interval needing inspiration but they did so without captain Jonas Hector who had picked up an injury and was replaced by Jannes Horn. And it was the home team that again crafted the first chance as Kalajdzic dragged his effort from the inside right of Cologne's box wide of the far post. With just over half an hour to play, Stuttgart were made to pay for their missed chances by Anthony Modeste. Florian Müller fumbled Florian Kainz's cross from the left and Modeste was presented with an open goal to head into from close range. Suddenly, though, with Hertha trailing Dortmund, Stuttgart were a goal away from securing survival. Willed towards goal by the home faithful, Pellegrino Matarazzo's side pulled off the greatest of escapes thanks to Endo's 92nd-minute header, sending the Mercedes-Benz Arena wild with the most dramatic of final day finishes.
Watch: Endo: "I can't believe it!"
- This was just the sixth win at home for Die Schwaben this season.
- Endo scored his fourth Bundesliga goal of the campaign and eighth in total for the club.
- Kalajdzic took just the second penalty of his professional career. He scored the other, converting from 12-yards against Arminia Bielefeld in April.
- Five of Kalajdzic's nine Bundesliga goals this season have come in his last nine appearances and the Austrian striker has now scored a third of his total 2021/22 league goals with his head.
- As for Modeste, 10 of his 20 top-flight goals this term came via his head.
- Cologne scored four times against Stuttgart in three meetings this season (two in the Bundesliga, one in the DFB Cup), with Modeste scoring all of those goals. He now has seven in total across his career against VfB.
Watch: Matarazzo: "Winning goal a moment of ecstasy!"
Stuttgart: Müller - Mavropanos, Anton, Ito - Karazor (Coulibaly 85') - Führich (Thommy 58') (Massimo 90+8'), Endo (c), Mangala, Sosa - Tomas (Marmoush 58'), Kalajdzic
Unused subs: Bredlow, Millot, Klimowicz, Beyaz, Bazzoli
Out: Ahamada (broken toe), Faghir (knee), Förster (ill), Nartey (knee), Mola (knee), Sankoh (knee), Silas (shoulder), Stenzel (pelvis)
Coach: Pellegrino Matarazzo
Cologne: Schwäbe - Ehizibue (Schmitz 64'), Kilian (Lemperle 78'), Hübers, Hector (c) (J. Horn 46') - Skhiri, Özcan - Ljubicic, Uth (Duda 78'), Kainz (Schindler 64') - Modeste
Unused subs: T. Horn, Schaub, Chabout, Olesen
Out: Andersson (match fitness), Thielmann (knee)
Coach: Steffen Baumgart
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