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back Bundesliga | 19.02.2013 19:40:25

Stuttgart cautious despite derby win

  • Martin Harnik's (l.) third-minute goal proved decisive for Stuttgart in the south-west derby against Hoffenheim
  • The forward (4th r.) skilfully headed in Ibrahima Traore's (r.) pinpoint cross
  • Stuttgart's players react to their first win after five straight Bundesliga losses

Sinsheim - While there were plenty of positives to be taken from VfB Stuttgart's 1-0 win at 1899 Hoffenheim last Sunday - not least a return to winning ways after five consecutive league defeats - the Swabians are aware they still have plenty of work to do.

Goalkeeper Sven Ulreich spoke for the rest of his team-mates in recognising "we're not done yet" after a brilliant Martin Harnik header had helped the club to three crucial points to increase the distance between themselves and the relegation zone.

Attacking approach

Recent results had seen Stuttgart plummet from fifth to 14th in the table, with their lowest ebb coming in the form of a 4-1 home defeat to SV Werder Bremen on Matchday 21. Coach Bruno Labbadia reacted to that loss by adopting a more attacking approach, starting only one holding midfielder - William Kvist - rather than two against Hoffenheim.

As a result, Stuttgart looked more balanced in their build-up play, with Ibrahima Traore and Arthur Boka causing trouble down the left wing and Gotoku Sakai and Harnik doing likewise on the opposite flank. It was from Traore's pinpoint cross that Harnik headed in the game's decisive goal.

Europe still possible

The visitors' performance left little room for criticism, although Gentner felt "we could have been at little more decisive going forward at times". However, the victory rarely seemed in doubt over the course of the game, bar a couple of saves from Ulreich in the closing stages.

"This win came at the right time," said the Stuttgart custodian, while the club's top scorer Vedad Ibisevic, who was unable to add to his season tally of ten goals against his former employers, believed "the victory will give us confidence". For a side notorious for coming good in the latter stages of the season, it was precisely what VfB needed if they are to remain in the race for a Europa League spot.

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