Stuttgart - VfB Stuttgart left it late to salvage a point in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Steaua Bucharest in Group E of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening.

Vedad Ibisevic netted his fourth goal in three Europa League outings early on, with Georg Niedermeier adding his name to the scoresheet to cancel out goals from Steaua duo Alexandru Chipciu and Raul Rusescu.

Ibisevic on cue


Reacting to a run of three Bundesliga games without a win, Bruno Labbadia opted to pair Cacau and Ibisevic together up front and the move appeared to have paid off just four minutes in, when Tamas Hajnal found the head of Stuttgart's clinical no.9 for 1-0.The lead lasted barely a minute, though, as Steaua's Stefan Nikolic punished some hapless Stuttgart defending to tee up Chipciu from close range.

Stuttgart's back four were rocking and the Romanian league leaders very nearly went ahead as unmarked defender Lukasz Szukala sent a downward header narrowly wide, before the Swabians tried a corner-kick routine of their own that saw Maza glance over from another pinpoint Hajnal cross in the 39th minute.

Rescue mission


The manner in which the home side started the second half gave the 17,555 spectators at the Mercedes Benz Arena something to cheer, with Hajnal a constant threat and Cacau nodding Christian Gentner's deflected shot against the crossbar. However, Stuttgart's defensive problems were never far away as Maza handed the visitors a golden opportunity to take the lead minutes later, only for Nikolic to blaze over.

Stuttgart continued to use the right-hand side to good effect, but the woodwork was once again on hand to deny Cacau in the 67th minute. Rusescu's well-taken spot-kick looked to have won it for Steaua with ten minutes remaining, before Ibisevic and Niedermeier combined to rescue a deserved point five minutes from time.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge

Line-ups:

Stuttgart: Ulreich - Sakai, Niedermeier, Maza, Boka - Kvist (82. Harnik), Gentner - Torun (62. Okazaki), Hajnal (82. Traore) - Cacau, Ibisevic.

Bucharest: Tatarusanu - Georgievski, Szukala, Chiriches, Parvulescu (81. Latovlevici) - Prepelita (46. Pintilii), Bourceanu, Filip (46. Rusescu) - Popa, Nikolic, Chipciu.

Goals: 1:0 Ibisevic (5.), 1:1 Chipciu (6.), 1:2 Rusescu (80., pen), 2:2 Niedermeier (85.)