FC Ingolstadt 04 3-3 VfB Stuttgart: Thriller at the Audi Sportpark

In a six-goal thriller, FC Ingolstadt 04 and VfB Stuttgart played out a 3-3 draw in Bavaria.

FC Ingolstadt 04 3-3 VfB Stuttgart: Thriller at the Audi Sportpark
Image credit: UEFA.com
FC Ingolstadt 04
3 3
VfB Stuttgart
FC Ingolstadt 04: Özcan; da Costa, Matip, Hübner, Bauer; Cohen (Engel, min. 85), Roger, Christiansen; Hartmann, Lezcano (Lex, min. 90+2), Leckie.
VfB Stuttgart: Tyton; Großkreutz, Schwaab, Niedermeier (Šunjić, min. 54), Insúa; Gentner, Die (Kravets, min. 55); Rupp, Didavi, Kostić; Werner (Taschi, min. 74).
SCORE: 1-0, min. 4, Hartmann. 1-1, min. 9, Kostić. 2-1, min. 56, Leckie. 3-1, min. 61, Lezcano. 3-2, min. 79, Rupp. 3-3, min. 84, Didavi.
REFEREE: Manuel Gräfe (GER) Booked: Niedermeier (min. 22) da Costa (min. 54) Didavi (min. 62) Hübner (min. 70) Gentner (min. 87)
INCIDENTS: Bundesliga game between FC Ingolstadt 04 and VfB Stuttgart at the Audi Sportpark.

Matchday 26 in the Bundesliga pitted two of the division's in-form sides against each other, as FC Ingolstadt 04 drew with VfB Stuttgart in a six-goal thriller at the Audi Sportpark.

It was a quick fire start for both sides, and it was one goal at piece inside ten minutes. Moritz Hartmann had thundered die Schanzer ahead before Filip Kostić slotted past Ramazan Özcan, in what proved to be a lively first half however with no more goals.

The real action came in the second period, as Ingolstadt appeared to take an unassailable 3-1 lead. Matthew Leckie headed home from a Darío Lezcano freekick, before the Paraguayan got one himself and ended his Bundesliga goal drought. It was some goal too, a rifled free-kick into the top corner of the Stuttgart goal. 

Yet just when it looked like VfB Stuttgart would be traveling back to Baden-Württemburg empty handed, Lukas Rupp popped up to give the traveling die Roten fans some hope. Entering the last five minutes they would get the all important break, as Kostić was felled in the box and top scorer Daniel Didavi slotted home from twelve yards to round off a spectacular Bundesliga game. 

Quickfire start at the Audi Sportpark

Home of the Bundesliga's lowest scoring side, the Audi Sportpark has not been host to many high scoring events. The small Bavarian stadium, opened in 2010, saw its previously highest scoring match in FC Ingolstadt 04's 3-1 victory over SV Darmstadt 98 however the visit of the free-scoring die Roten, VfB Stuttgart prompted two goals within the opening ten minutes. 

It was the perfect start for the hosts, die Schanzer. Moritz Hartmann latched onto a loose Filip Kostić pass, intended for Emiliano Insua, before crashing  home a powerful right footed effort from a tight angle above the head of Przemysław Tytoń. The Polish keeper most likely could've and should've done better, but Hartmann for the second week running had given Ralph Hasenhüttl's plucky side an early lead. The goal, the quickest ever in the Bundesliga for die Schanzer.

Jürgen Kramny's side however hit straight back, and courtesy of Kostić they were back on level terms only five minutes after Hartmann gave die Schanzer the lead and the Serb had atoned for his earlier error. Kostić was played in behind the left flank and Danny da Costa thanks to Emiliano Insua, the Serbian adeptly beating the offside trap. Joined by the plethora of red and white shirts that had joined the attack, the left midfielder fainted a pass before slotting past Ramazan Özcan for his fifth of the season, and fourth since the winter break. 

With the added impetus the goal gave them, Stuttgart pressed for a quick turnaround in the score. Kostić the main protagonist once more, joined by Daniel Didavi played a number of dangerous crosses into the Ingolstadt box. Where Timo Werner should've scored the first, Marvin Matip & co stood firm for the rest and presented their usual stern defensive shape towards their foe.

At the other end, Tytoń nearly gifted Ingolstadt a second. The 6ft 4" stopper flapped at a Max Christiansen delivery and once again Hartmann was on the end of it, but was unlucky to see his volleyed effort deflected wide for a corner. Darío Lezcano also saw a freekick sail into the grateful clasp of the Stuttgart stopper, still on the quest for his first Schanzer goal following a January move from FC Luzern.

Deployed on the right wing, Hartmann has found some superb form recently. The man who has been in Ingolstadt since 2009 is top scorer for the Audi Sportpark side with seven, his tenacious style has made him a fan favourite in this part of Bavaria. His teammate, Lukas Hinterseer could count himself unlucky not to earn a start; the Austrian with three goals in his last four appearances.

After an already stunning goal, Hartmann nearly replicated it and exceeded his previous effort. Another lofted ball was not fully cleared by the Stuttgart defence; the forward acrobatically met the second ball and without the extended hand of Tytoń, Hartmann's overhead kick would've found the bottom corner.

For all the FC Ingolstadt 04 pressure, Lukas Rupp nearly gave VfB Stuttgart the lead on the stroke of referee's Manuel Gräfe's half time whistle. The former SC Paderborn man, who has come into his own in Baden-Württemburg saw a close range effort shot straight at Özcan when it seemed easier to score.

Ingolstadt run riot

Die Schanzer, FC Ingolstadt 04 started in similar fashion to the first. In their usual dogmatic, collective approach Hasenhüttl's charges harassed and pressed their Schwabian opposites forcing them into a number of early mistakes. Lezcano once again, as well as Matthew Leckie saw efforts either saved by the Polish goalkeeper or whistle just wide. 

Stuttgart's central defender Georg Niedermeier could count himself lucky that he wasn't making his way for an early bath, after hauling down Lezcano after missing the ball. Niedermeier had previously picked up a yellow for handball in the first period and was offered a final chance by Gräfe; although Kramny chose almost straight after to remove the defender.

The hosts eventually got their just returns for their good start, as Matthew Leckie got his second of the season. The Australian met a free-kick from Lezcano and powered his header into the back of the Stuttgart goal - Tytoń on this occasion with no chance. Cue rapturous celebrations from the Ingolstadt supporters.

Not long after it was two and jubilation at the Audi Sportpark. Finally, it was that man Darío Lezcano who got his first die Schanzer goal and what an effort it was too. The Paraguayan thundering a free-kick straight into the top right hand corner of the goal; equal reward for what had been a super performance for the January signing. 

Filling in for Pascal Groß, young Max Christiansen had marshaled the midfield with a display way beyond his years. The Germany Under-20 captain, had stopped a number of die Roten counter-attacks whilst starting of number for his own side. Groß was absent after picking up a red card in the 1-1 against Eintracht Frankfurt and will return for next weekends trip to face Hertha BSC in the capital.

Save for the absent midfielder, die Schanzer were unchanged from the side that drew at the Commerzbank Arena and the continuity has to be one of the reasons for the newly promoted side's success this season.

Christiansen and Gentner challenge for the ball.
Christiansen and Gentner challenge for the ball.

A miss that proves costly

At this stage die Schanzer were running riot; the VfB Stuttgart defence was in disarray and the Ingolstadt forwards full of confidence. Lezcano should've had another, with the goal at his mercy he could only manage to hit the side netting after a mistake from Toni Šunjić.

They would soon regret that miss, as Lukas Rupp provided the Schwabian's, Stuttgart a late lifeline. Where in the first half he had missed a similar chance, the midfielder this time toe-poked home after some pinball in the FC Ingolstadt 04 box. Jürgen Kramny had thrown all caution to the wind, introducing both the attacking Ukrainians Artem Kravets and Boris Taschi.

Just as it looked like die Schanzer had done enough to earn another three points in their quest for Bundesliga survival, they conceded in the worst possible manor. Marvin Matip, who has led from example throughout the season and epitomised all that is good about Ralph Hasenhüttl's Schanzer, felled Filip Kostić in the penalty area as he had looked to clear. Gräfe pointed to the spot. Up-stepped VfB top scorer Daniel Didavi with immense pressure upon him, yet the midfielder was up for the task and sent Özcan the wrong way and the comeback was complete.

Didavi seals a point.
Didavi seals a point.

The Cameroonian, Matip, had earned his first call up for the national team in over three years just days before the clash but that was no consolation as his side had threw away a two goal lead for the first time ever in the Bundesliga.

With little time to recover, neither side could top off arguably one of the most exciting games of the Bundesliga season and get a winner. die Roten, Stuttgart evidently the more happier, with in their minds one point gained; however for their opposition, FC Ingolstadt 04 it felt as if it was two points lost.