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Sports

Thrilling draw for Stuttgart, goalless tie for Gladbach

The Europa League groups stage kicked off early for Borussia Mönchengladbach and Stuttgart. Stuttgart drew 2-2 with Steaua Bucharest at home, while it was a goalless draw for Gladbach at AEL Limassol.

The drama came at either end of the match in Stuttgart, where the home side scored early on only to have it swiftly cancelled out by Steaua Bucharest.

The wonder start came thanks to a well-placed cross between the defenders from Stuttgart's Tamas Hajnal, which allowed Vedad Ibisevic to head in from close range on five minutes.

Celebrations among the Stuttgart faithful were short-lived. The visiting side responded almost instantly as Stuttgart keeper Sven Ulreich rushed out without getting the ball. That allowed Adrian Popa to tee up Alexandru Chipciu, who had an easy job to put it away.

After that it was largely even for the rest of the first half and the second half did not begin nearly so eventfully as the first. Stuttgart could have taken the lead through Cacau in the 60th minute. He headed onto the bar and should really have done better.

Some late nail biting

That miss seemed all the graver when substitute Raul Rusescu scored from the penalty spot on 80 minutes, Ulreich being cautioned by the referee for his foul.

The late equalizer came with a header from Georg Niedermeier (pictured), who flicked it in thanks to a cross from Cacau. After the assist, the brazil-born Germany-forward again hit the woodwork in the dying moments, and it was to end 2-2.

In Cyprus, Borussia Mönchengladbach had a lively start against Cypriots AEL Limassol, although nothing like as frantic as at Stuttgart. Gladbach striker Mike Hanke hit the woodwork on 5 minutes and had another shot on goal on the quarter of an hour mark. It wasn't all one way traffic though, with AEL enjoying their chances as the first half ended goalless.

The big chance of the second half came seven minutes into extra time, when Oscar Wendt stepped up to take a penalty after Paulo Sergio's foul. He missed, hitting the woodwork leaving the score at 0-0.

In later matches, Bayer Leverkusen were hosting Ukrainian side Metalist while Hanover were away to Dutch side FC Twente.