Goals from Marc-Oliver Kempf and Gonzalo Castro gave Stuttgart a comprehensive 2-0 win at Hertha Berlin on Saturday, as VfB make their best start to a Bundesliga season since 2008/09 - the year they finished third.
Hertha flew out of the traps as they sought to endi a run of two successive defeats that have followed their 4-1 Matchday 1 win at Werder Bremen. Their front three of Jhon Cordoba, Matheus Cunha and Mathew Leckie put the Stuttgart back line under immediate pressure as the visitors struggled to match the intensity of their hosts, but it was VfB who went close first as Sasa Kalajdzic’s seventh-minute header thumped the post. Just two minutes later, Stuttgart were in front against the early run of play as Kempf rose highest to head home Daniel Didavi’s inviting free-kick. Neither side managed to muster any more first-half chances of note, with Stuttgart taking their 1-0 lead into the break.
They should have doubled that lead three minutes into the second period as Didavi teed up Kalajdzic, but the Austria international could only head wide from less than six yards and with the goal at his mercy. Hertha responded well and were almost level five minutes later as half-time substitute Dodi Lukebakio superbly closed down Gregor Kobel, but the Stuttgart stopper reacted wonderfully to save Cunha’s follow-up. But it was Stuttgart who would score again to stretch their lead, thanks to the persistence of captain Castro. First, he robbed the ball just inside the Hertha half, and then kept the move alive before firing home from 20-yards out. Pellegrino Matarazzo's side comfortably saw out a victory that moved Stuttgart into fourth-place in the table on Saturday evening.
- This defeat ended a four-game winning streak for Hertha at home to Stuttgart.
- The Old Lady have lost seven of their last nine Bundesliga matches, dating back to last season.
- They have also lost each of their last three league matches, while Stuttgart's seven points from their first four games is their best start to a new season since 2008/09 - when they also picked up two wins and a draw from their opening four games and eventually finished third.
- Kempf's header was the first time Stuttgart have scored in the opening 30 minutes of a match this term.
- It was the 25-year-old defender's fourth Bundesliga goal, with his maiden top-flight effort also coming against Hertha as a 19-year-old Freiburg player in September 2014.
- Castro scored his first goal of the season, the Germany international's 34th Bundesliga goal in his 387th appearance.
Watch: Matarazzo: “We need to keep our feet on the ground”
Hertha: Schwolow - Pekarik (Zeefuik 21, Löwen 78'), Stark, Boyata (c), Plattenhardt (Dilrosun 66') - Darida (Piatek 78'), Tousart, Mittelstädt - Leckie (Lukebakio 46'), Cunha - Cordoba
Unused subs: Jarstein, Fernandez, Ngankam, Netz
Out: Ascacibar (muscular), Guendouzi (not included), Torunarigha (ankle), Klünter (pelvis)
Coach: Bruno Labbadia
Stuttgart: Kobel - Stenzel, Karazor, Kempf - Endo - Silas (Kaminski 89'), Mangala, Castro (c) (Egloff 89'), Coulibaly (Gonzalez 64') - Didavi (Klimowicz 64') - Kalajdzic (Al Ghaddioui 87')
Unused subs: Bredlow, Klement, Aidonis, Mack
Out: Anton (ankle), Awoudja (Achilles tendon), Mavropanos (knee), Thommy (elbow, Massimo (foot), Mola (hip)
Coach: Pellegrino Matarazzo