The hosts went ahead against the run of play through Alexander Madlung, but a Martin Harnik brace and delightful Christian Gentner effort seemingly put Stuttgart on course for victory. However, second half strikes from Alexander Meier, Stefan Aigner and another from Madlung turned the match on its head once more as Frankfurt edged ahead, only for late goals from Timo Werner and Gentner to hand VfB the points.
Eagles in front
With injuries to Moritz Leitner and Vedad Ibisevic, among others, forcing his hand, Stuttgart coach Armin Veh made four changes to his side upon his return to Frankfurt. The new-look outfit set straight about their task and very nearly went ahead within minutes of the kick-off, as Alexandru Maxim and Gentner went close in quick succession, only for their efforts to be blocked.
However, despite being second best during the opening period it was the hosts who managed to score first. Takashi Inui’s corner from the left was met at the back post by Haris Seferovic, whose header came back off the bar and fell kindly for Madlung, who smashed the ball over the line to give the Eagles a hugely flattering lead on his first start under coach Thomas Schaaf.
It took Stuttgart a little while to digest the shock of going behind, but once they did the visitors swiftly set about making amends. Oriol Romeu dispossessed Inui in midfield and drove forwards to the edge of the Frankfurt area. He attempted to play a through-ball to Filip Kostic on the left, but his pass deflected off a defender to the feet of Harnik, who side-footed home from ten yards out.
With Frankfurt reeling, Stuttgart struck again following a well-worked move down the right which ended with Harnik flicking in at the back post to give the guests a deserved 2-1 lead at the break. Schaaf reacted by taking off the largely ineffective Inui and Lucas Piazon at half time, but it made little difference to the flow of the game as Stuttgart soon extended their lead further, with Genter curling a wonderful shot into the net from Maxim’s superb pass.
Yet there were plenty more twists to come as Frankfurt staged a fightback of their own. Sloppy defending from Stuttgart allowed Meier to bundle the ball over the line on the rebound after Thorsten Kirschbaum’s excellent save, before Aigner hauled Frankfurt level minutes later with a powerful run and finish. Not content to stop there, Frankfurt continued attacking and retook the lead when Madlung flicked a header home from Marc Stendera’s left-wing free kick.
It remained a pulsating affair in the closing stages, with both sides determined to keep going for goal. Indeed Meier very nearly grabbed his second from another Stendera set-piece but he could only hit the post from a tight angle.
He was left ruing that miss as Stuttgart teenager Werner was inexplicably given time and space to skip down the left wing and fire the visitors level, before Gentner snatched a last-gasp winner when Frankfurt failed to clear their lines from a free-kick. Seferovic was sent off shortly afterwards to compound the hosts' woes and allow Stuttgart to return home with three valuable - and unforgettable - points.
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