Rome - VfB Stuttgart crashed out of the UEFA Europa League after suffering a 3-1 defeat at the Stadio Olimpico against S.S. Lazio in the second leg of their last 16 tie.

Uncertainty amongst the Stuttgart backline allowed Libor Kozak to bag a brace inside the opening eight minutes. Tamas Hajnal reduced the arrears temporarily, but Kozak completed his hat-trick late on to secure a comprehensive 5-1 aggregate victory for the Italians, knocking the Swabians out of the competition.

Lazio dictate proceedings


Hoping to bounce back from three consecutive losses, Stuttgart fired off an early warning shot through Raphael Holzhauser. However, Lazio went one better soon after when Kozak slotted in from close range to keep the home side in the driving seat. Buoyed by their early opener, the hosts pressed home the advantage, as Kozak doubled their lead, driving a powerful effort in off the underside of the bar.

Sven Ulreich was fortunate not to concede for a third time after spilling Antonio Candreva's dipping free-kick as the Italians maintained their control on the encounter. Stuttgart, shell-shocked after going behind, struggled to muster up a response and, short of ideas and chances, went in at the break chasing the game.

Improved Stuttgart


The visitors emerged rejuvenated from the changing rooms and soon began making their presence felt on the pitch. Gotoku Sakai and Holzhauser both failed to get the better of back-up goalkeeper Albano Bizzarri, but Stuttgart eventually registered on the scoresheet when Hajnal slotted into the bottom corner just past the hour mark.

The Bundesliga side threw bodies forward during the closing stages in the hopes of at least rescuing a draw in Rome. However, after Christian Gentner, Martin Harnik and Georg Niedermeier, who clipped the post with a brilliant diving header, all squandered chances, Kozak bagged his hat-trick, sealing Stuttgart's fate and Lazio's place in the quarter finals.

Line-ups:

Lazio: Marchetti (Bizzarri 42') - Pereirinha, Biava, Ciani, Radu - Candreva, Onazi, Hernanes (Ederson 74'), Lulic - Mauri (Ledesma 66'), Kozak

Stuttgart: Ulreich - Sakai, Rüdiger, Tasci, Molinaro - Holzhauser, Gentner - Okazaki, Hajnal (Harnik 74'), Macheda (Traore 63') - Ibisevic

Goals: 1-0 Kozak (6'), 2-0 Kozak (8'), 2-1 Hajnal (62'), 3-1 Kozak (87')