WOLFSBURG: A dramatic late Daniel Ginczek goal grabbed Wolfsburg a 2-1 win over Schalke on Saturday as VAR interventions dominated the opening weekend of the Bundesliga season.
After Nabil Bentaleb’s late penalty cancelled out Wolfsburg’s first-half opener by US defender John Anthony Brooks, Ginczek sealed a dramatic win by sweeping home a 94th-minute winner against last season’s runners-up.
However, the game was dominated by chaotic scenes midway through the second half at Wolfsburg’s Volkswagen Arena as VAR reviews led to a flurry of card reversals.
“The man in the basement made crucial mistakes,” fumed Schalke’s director of sport Christian Heidel, referring to the VAR official based in Cologne.
“I felt a little sorry for the ref, he would have done a great job if he (the VAR) hadn’t spoken up.”
Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco later claimed he was insulted during a heated exchange with match referee Patrick Ittrich, which the referee later denied.
Tedesco claimed to have been “lied to”, complaining “of the way the officials talk to us”.
Ittrich later contradicted Tedesco’s version of events, but added: “If he thinks I insulted him, then formally, I’ll say ‘sorry’.”
Schalke were reduced to 10 men when defender Matija Nastasić was sent off for going in studs up on Wolfsburg’s Dutch striker Wout Weghorst on 66 minutes.
A VAR ruling meant the yellow card he was initially shown was upgraded to a red by Ittrich.
Weghorst was then sent off moments later for taking down Schalke forward Guido Burgstaller.
However, his red card was downgraded to a yellow after the video assistant spotted that Burgstaller, who was subsequently booked, had shoved the Dutchman over in the penalty area.
The chaos in Wolfsburg came after defending champions Bayern Munich beat Hoffenheim 3-1 on Friday with the help of a controversial penalty despite the referee consulting VAR.
Wolfsburg took the lead when Maximilian Arnold’s corner drifted to the back post and was headed into the top corner by centre-back Brooks on 33 minutes.
But the defender then gave away a late penalty for a kick on Schalke’s Swiss striker Breel Embolo.
Ex-Tottenham midfielder Bentaleb, who had just come off the bench, fired home the 85th-minute spot-kick before Ginczek struck.
Later on Saturday, Borussia Mönchengladbach enjoyed an impressive 2-0 win at home over Bayer Leverkusen, capped by a stunning goal from American midfielder Fabian Johnson.
Thorgan Hazard squandered a first-half penalty when his weak shot was saved by Leverkusen goalkeeper Ramazan Özcan.
It was goalless at the break, but Gladbach were not to be denied at Borussia Park and midfielder Jonas Hofmann converted a penalty on 55 minutes before Johnson scored the goal of the opening weekend so far.
After a superb exchange of quick passes at close quarters with Raffael, he toe-poked the ball home on the slide.
Elsewhere, Nuremberg suffered a 1-0 defeat at Hertha Berlin on their return to the Bundesliga after a four-year absence.
Hertha captain Vedad Ibišević slammed home a first-half winner at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.
Eintracht Frankfurt, under new coach Adi Hütter, made up for the shock ending of their German Cup defence by Regionalliga Südwest minnows Ulm last weekend with a 2-0 win at Freiburg as strikers Nicolai Müller and Sebastien Haller scored.
Werder Bremen were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Hanover 96 with Hendrik Weydandt’s goal for the visitors cancelled out by a late header by Bremen’s Czech defender Theodor Gebre Selassie.
Augsburg enjoyed a 2-1 comeback win at newly-promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf thanks to André Hahn’s late header after Austria defender Martin Hinteregger levelled following Benito Raman’s first-half goal for the hosts.