Leipzig held in Bundesliga opener, Schalke lose top-flight return

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Leipzig held in Bundesliga opener, Schalke lose top-flight return

German Cup winners RB Leipzig made a frustrating start to the new Bundesliga campaign as they were held to a 1-1 draw at VfB Stuttgart on Sunday.

Christopher Nkunku started as he finished last season with the opening goal in just nine minutes but Naouirou Ahamada netted a lovely equalizer before the break.

Leipzig had the better of the chances to seal three points but Stuttgart, who only narrowly retained top-flight status, held on to claim a useful draw.

The opening weekend concluded with Schalke losing on their return to the top-flight, 3-1 at Cologne, after having three video assistent referee (VAR) calls go against them.

Champions Bayern Munich began their bid for an 11th straight title with a 6-1 cruise at Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday.

Leipzig were without midfielder Konrad Laimer, a reported transfer target for Bayern, due to an injury but still looked slick from the start.

Nkunku, the 2021/22 Bundesliga player of the year, finished clinically from Dani Olmo's flick after Benjamin Henrichs had split the defence.

Home keeper Florian Müller made the first of several good saves from a Lukas Klostermann header and Stuttgart levelled in 31 minutes when Ahamada found the bottom corner from a one-two with Sasa Kalajdzic.

"We had many chanes," Henrichs told DAZN. "It feels like Stuttgart who at goal once and at the end it's 1-1. It feels like a defeat."

Konstantinos Mavropanos rattled the post for Stuttgart on the stroke of half-time and Josha Vagnoman shanked wide as they restarted better from the interval.

Leipzig regained their composure to press for a winner but Müller denied Nkunku and then somehow clawed out Willi Orban's late header on the line to keep them out.

"If you look at the whole game, we have deserved the point," said Stuttgart sport chief Sven Mislintat, who admitted Müller had a "superb day" in goal.

Schalke needed only 10 minutes to find the net again in the Bundesliga, after a single season in the second division, but Rodrigo Zalazar's rocket was disallowed as a team-mate was offside.

And matters further turned against them when Dominick Drexler was red carded for a poor challenge on Jonas Hector.

Cologne were without star striker Anthony Modeste, who it was revealed should complete a move to Borussia Dortmund on Monday, but finally went in front in the 50th minute when Luca Kilian converted a clever corner.

Florian Kainz doubled the lead when Alexander Schwolow fumbled a cross and though Marius Bülter's fine header briefly gave Schalke hope, the ball rebounding off Schwolow into the net after Dejan Ljubicic headed off the post ended the contest.

The offside goal, the red card and Kainz's strike were all decide against Schalke by marginal – though technically correct – VAR decisions, to the annoyance of the promoted side.

"That winds me up," sporting director Rouven Schröder said. "We have been disadvantaged. We need a video assistant, not a head referee."

Cologne coach Steffen Baumgart agreed: "We would definitely have been upset too". As for the red card, he said: "You could have left it."

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