Cologne's striker Simon Zoller (R) celebrates with his teammates after helping his side defeat Stuttgart 3-1 on Sunday.
DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images
Stuttgart’s poor finishing was punished by a clinical 1.FC Köln who scored three times in the last 15 minutes to bag all three points in Sunday’s 3-1 victory.
Anthony Modeste, Simon Zoller and Yuya Osako found the net to kickoff the season on a high for the visitors with a smash-and-grab-type performance. The Billy Goats hadn’t won in Stuttgart for 19 years and Peter Stöger’s stodgy defensive unit came under instant pressure from the home side.
The Swabians bombarded Timo Horn’s goal throughout the contest, the Köln keeper perhaps having his busiest afternoon for some time. On 11 minutes, Christian Gentner, the Stuttgart captain, clipped the bottom of the post with a 20-yard shot from the edge of the penalty box.
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Under new coach Alexander Zoringer, the former boss of RB Leipzig, Stuttgart is looking to develop its attacking game. There’s been little need for investment this summer in the forward line with Filip Kostic, Alexandru Maxim and Timo Werner, to name a few, on the books.
Industrious Harnik was locked in a constant battle with Horn — and the talented Köln keeper was up to the task. The Austrian forward missed a chance on 13 minutes after fine work by Kostic, then Horn made a terrific reflex save to keep out Adam Hlousek’s close-range header.
On 46 minutes, Daniel Ginczek tried the spectacular bicycle kick and wasted a great chance. Soon after, Antonio Rudiger’s’ header did beat Horn — but not Jonas Hector who hooked the ball off-the-line. In the 64th minute, Harnik missed when through on goal and was denied again by Horn seconds after after a mistake from the keeper.
For all their shots on goal, Stuttgart surprisingly fell behind when goalie Przemyslaw Tyton took down Modeste at the corner of the box. It was a rash decision almost characteristic of Stuttgart’s problems in recent seasons
Signed as a replacement for Anthony Ujah in the summer, Modeste has already endeared himself to Köln fans and he tucked home the penalty on 75 minutes. Less than a minute later, substitute Simon Zoller rammed in a second to send the visiting fans into scenes of wild celebrations.
Stuttgart won a spot-kick of their own three minutes later — Pawel Olkowski bundling over Kostic as the Serbian threatened to cross. Didavi made no mistake from 12 yards to give the home side hope of a comeback.
But despite their best attempts, Zoringer’s men were left deflated when Modeste set up Yuya Osako on the counterattack to secure a 3-1 triumph for the visitors in stoppage time.