VfB Stuttgart have climbed out of the relegation zone after Borna Sosa's thumping second-half finish gave them a much-needed home win over Mainz on Friday.
Roared on by a passionate home crowd, the home side made much the brighter start. It could have been the perfect one when fit-again Omar Marmoush drove into the penalty area after three minutes and turned David Nemeth inside out. The Egyptian's rasping strike on goal, however, was pushed over the bar by Mainz netminder Robin Zentner. It was Mainz who had the next opportunity, when Karim Onisiwo's shot at the end of a fast break was just about repelled by Florian Müller. Onisiwo then turned sharply into the area, but from a tight angle he could only fire the ball across goal and wide. Stuttgart, though, had had 60 percent of possession by the 20-minute mark, and seconds later they made that control count. Hiroki Ito was picked out on the left-hand side of the penalty box thanks to a clever touch from Orel Mangala, and his curling effort proved marginally too strong for Zentner. Soon afterwards Stuttgart had a penalty award ruled out after a VAR review, and Pellegrino Matarazzo's team were made to rue that decision before half-time. Mainz had been applying some considerable pressure by the time centre-back Alexander Hack rose high to glance home a well-flighted Jean-Paul Boetius corner.
Philipp Förster came close to restoring Stuttgart’s lead four minutes into the second half, but his low attempt went just the wrong side of the post. Sosa had better luck two minutes later, smashing into the roof of the net from a narrow angle after being found on the left by Mangala. The Swabians were desperate to snap a three-game losing streak in the Bundesliga, and some desperate defending was required at times to keep Mainz at bay. Boetius arrowed an effort just beyond the top corner on the hour, and Jae-sun Lee then hit the target but couldn't beat Müller. With ten minutes to play Hack let fly from way out only to see the Stuttgart keeper push his shot past the post. The home team were forced to defend deep in the final stages, but they held end on to put an end to the visitors' four-game unbeaten run.
- Ito scored his first goal for Stuttgart, while Croatia wing-back Sosa was on the scoresheet for the first time in the German top flight.
- The home side had lost their previous four games across all competitions, and had not won in six.
- The Swabians beat Mainz home and away last season (2-0, 4-1).
- Hack got his first goal of the campaign. He also netted in Mainz’s 3-2 win in Stuttgart in January 2019.
- Mainz had 18 attempts at goal to the home side's eight.
- The 05ers missed the chance to go fifth after losing for the fourth time in six away games this season.
Watch: Borna Sosa on "beautiful" first Bundesliga goal
Stuttgart: Müller - Mavropanos, Anton, Ito - Karazor - Massimo (Mvumpa 85'), Endo (c), Mangala (Klimowicz 63'), Sosa - Förster (Nartey 63') - Marmoush (Stenzel 82')
Unused subs: Bredlow, Mola, Al Ghaddioui, Faghir, Tibidi
Out: Ahamada (Achilles), Coulibaly (suspended), Kalajdzic (shoulder), Kempf (thigh), Millot (knee), Thommy (pelvis)
Coach: Pellegrino Matarazzo
Mainz: Zentner - Nemeth (Stach 75'), Hack, Niakhate (c) - Widmer, Lee, Barreiro (Stöger 75'), Boetius, Martin - Onisiwo (Ingvartsen 75'), Burkardt (Szalai 75')
Unused subs: Dahmen, Brosinski, Papela, Tauer, Nebel
Out: Bell (suspended), Kohr (thigh), Lucoqui (knee), St. Juste (shoulder)
Coach: Bo Svensson