BERLIN — Wout Weghorst was shown a red card on his Wolfsburg debut on Saturday but stayed on the field in a 2-1 win against 10-man Schalke as video assistant referee decisions again took centre stage in the Bundesliga.
Referee Patrick Ittrich had already sent off Schalke defender Matija Nastasic after an intervention from the VAR following a dangerous tackle on Weghorst in the 65th minute.
Minutes later, Ittrich received another instruction to send Dutch forward Weghorst off after he bundled into Guido Burgstaller and knocked him over in retribution for a shove from the Schalke forward.
However, the referee then consulted video replays and changed the red card to yellow.
It preceded a frenetic finale during which Schalke’s Nabil Bentaleb equalized with a penalty before Daniel Ginczek claimed Wolfsburg’s winner in injury time.
The home side, which just escaped relegation last season, had taken the lead in the first half thanks to American defender John Brooks’ first goal for Wolfsburg since his switch from Hertha Berlin in 2017.
The VAR also caused disquiet on Friday, when defending champion Bayern Munich got the new season underway with a 3-1 win over Hoffenheim.
JOHNSON LIFTS GLADBACH
Fabian Johnson scored as Borussia Moenchengladbach beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 in the late game.
The American defender played a one-two with Raffael before claiming the second goal of the game in the 58th minute.
Jonas Hofmann had broken the deadlock three minutes earlier with the second penalty of the game. Leverkusen ‘keeper Ramazan Oezcan saved Thorgan Hazard’s effort from the spot in the first half.
FRUSTRATION WITH VAR GROWING
Fans were frustrated more than once on Saturday by the sight of referees consulting pitch-side TVs. There were whistles from the crowd as goals scored were checked for possible infringements.
Promoted Nuremberg had the chance to equalize at Hertha Berlin after Karim Rekik was adjudged by the VAR to have handled the ball, but Rune Jarstein saved Mikael Ishak’s late penalty and Hertha held on to win 1-0.
Promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf lost 2-1 to visiting Augsburg, while Eintracht Frankfurt won 2-0 at Freiburg and Werder Bremen drew 1-1 at home to Hannover.
This time, Nicolai Mueller’s goal celebrations were understandably restrained.
Mueller, who missed most of last season due to a knee injury after scoring on the opening day for Hamburger SV, kept his celebrations in check after netting for his new club Frankfurt at Freiburg.
Mueller held up a Frankfurt jersey featuring Timothy Chandler’s name in support of his injured American teammate, who is out for around six months after knee surgery.
Mueller tore cruciate ligaments when he landed awkwardly after scoring against Augsburg last year. He joined Frankfurt in the off-season following Hamburg’s relegation.