|I||Athletic||21:05||H. Kiryat Shmona|
VfB Stuttgart were forced to come from behind to claim a 2-2 draw in their UEFA Europa League Group E opener against FC Steaua Bucureşti.
Vedad Ibišević's early header for the hosts was quickly cancelled out by Alexandru Chipciu as both sides gave as good as they got. Stuttgart took control after the restart but were stunned by Raul Rusescu's late penalty, only for Georg Niedermeier to restore parity and deny the Romanian side a first win in Germany in 55 years.
Winless in the Bundesliga this season and depleted by injuries, Stuttgart were given an early boost as Ibišević nodded in Tamás Hajnal's measured cross just five minutes in. However, Steaua responded almost immediately as Stefan Nikolić surged into the box, poking past VfB keeper Sven Ulreich to tee up Chipciu for an easy finish.
It was blow for blow as the visitors countered every attack. Ciprian Tătăruşanu kept out efforts from Tunay Torun and Niedermeier but would have been helpless to stop Christian Gentner's strike had it dipped under the bar. Steaua's Alexandru Bourceanu also went close with a free-kick and Łukasz Szukała's header from a corner had Ulreich scrambling.
Ibišević and Francisco Rodríguez had threatened with headers before the half was out, but it was Cacau who should have recaptured the hosts' head early in the second period, instead heading onto the bar with the goal at his mercy.
The Brazilian-born striker could barely believe his luck 15 minutes later as Gotoku Sakai pulled back following a smart interchange on the right; again, Cacau connected with the crossbar. It looked as though the German international would be made to rue those missed opportunities with ten minutes remaining as Rusescu converted a penalty, but Niedermeier's glancing header ensured Stuttgart a share of the spoils.
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