VfB Stuttgart have it all to do in next week's return in Rome after going down 2-0 to S.S. Lazio in the home leg of their UEFA Europa League Round of 16 meeting.

A goal in each half from Ederson and Ogenyi Onazi put the side currently fifth in Serie A firmly in the driving seat and well on course to claim a second successive Bundesliga scalp, having disposed of Borussia Mönchengladbach in the previous round.

Chances squandered, chance taken


The hosts seized the initiative and dominated possession from the off, but their only real sniff of goal early on was an eighth-minute effort blasted over the bar by Ibrahima Traore after being teed-up on the left-hand edge of the box by Christian Gentner. With quarter of an hour on the clock Gentner was again the provider, this time from the right, for a spectacular Shinji Okazaki header which Lazio keeper Federico Marchetti batted over the bar with a brilliant reflex save.

For their part, the visitors looked more than willing to break forward whenever the opportunity presented itself and in the 21st minute they did just that, to deadly effect. Brazilian midfielder Ederson picked up the ball on the right of the home area, shrugged off marker William Kvist and drilled a precise finish past keeper Sven Ulreich to make it first blood to Lazio with a precious away goal.

End-to-end action


Undeterred, VfB were soon back on the offensive and the guest defence had to look sharpish to block Alexandru Maxim's pass into the channel at the end of a mazy run by the Romanian winter signing. Back at the other end, Lorik Cana then powered a header inches wide after rising unopposed to meet a corner, before Lazio passed up another opportunity to double their advantage, Ederson's downward header to a great ball in from Antonio Candreva bouncing just over the bar.

Maxim's starting debut for Stuttgart was then abruptly terminated when he had to be subbed off shortly after taking an elbow to the face from Anderson Hernandes. Okazaki then went very close to levelling with another header - the final chance of an intriguing first half.

The opening ten minutes of the second 45 were a slightly ragged affair, but to Stuttgart's misfortune, Ogenyi Onazi promptly injected some pace into the proceedings. Picking up the ball in midfield, the Nigeria international left Antonio Rüdiger standing and raced through to clinically finish the job against an over-exposed Ulreich.

Ulreich prevents worse


Two down, the home side persevered in their attempt to at least gain a foothold back in the contest and, for the third time, it was the livewire Okazaki who came close to succeeding with a 63rd-minute shot that drifted just wide of the post. Candreva then finished off a fine Lazio counter-attack by blasting over the bar. The Romans passed up another chance to make it three inside the final ten minutes, Ulreich doing well to narrow the angle and foil Senad Lulic.

The Stuttgart custodian was called into action again with the clock ticking down, this time gathering in a shot from sub Sergio Floccari - late saves which leave his side with perhaps still the glimmer of a chance of progressing in the Italian capital, as opposed to virtually no chance at all.


Line-ups
Stuttgart: Ulreich - Sakai, Tasci, Rüdiger, Boka - Kvist (Harnik 55'), Gentner - Okazaki, Maxim (Hajnal 41'), Traore - Macheda (Holzhäuser 90+3')

Lazio: Marchetti - Pereirinha, Radu, Ciani, Lulic - Cana, Onazi - Candreva, Hernanes (Gonzalez), Ederson (Ledsma 64') - Kozak (Floccari 84')

Goals: 0-1 Ederson (21'), 0-2 Onazi (56')