Mario Gomez rediscovered his scoring boots, Ozan Kabak registered his first senior goals and Steven Zuber continued his purple patch as VfB Stuttgart boosted their survival hopes but dealt a serious blow to second-bottom Hannover's on Sunday.
Goals: 1-0 Gomez (4'), 2-0 Kabak (16'), 3-0 Kabak (45'), 3-1 Jonathas (68'), 4-1 Zuber (78'), 5-1 Zuber (81')
Stuttgart captain Gomez missed a glorious opening to end his six-game drought inside two minutes, but soon made amends with a fine finish after smart play from Zuber. Hannover were all at sea, and fell further behind when 18-year-old defender Kabak rose unchallenged to meet a Gonzalo Castro corner with little over quarter of an hour gone. The same duo combined as Stuttgart extended their lead with a virtual carbon copy of their second and, but for Hannover goalkeeper Michael Esser saving from Gomez and Santiago Ascacibar, could easily have gone in at the break five or six goals to the good.
Stuttgart were untouchable in the first half, but were guilty of complacency after the restart. Markus Weinzierl's side saw very little of the ball for large periods, although goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler remained largely untested until substitute Jonathas met Genki Haraguchi's cross to reduce the arrears with 23 minutes of normal time still to play. The goal awoke Stuttgart from their slumber, however, as Zuber chalked up his third in as many games with the aid of a heavy Jonathas deflection. The in-form Hoffenheim loanee struck again moments later to move Stuttgart to within two points of safety and five clear of Hannover in the automatic relegation zone.
- Stuttgart ended a run of eight games without a win.
- Gomez is Stuttgart’s top scorer this season with six goals. He has scored nine times in his last 10 meetings with Hannover.
- Kabak scored his first career goals on his 24th senior club appearance (18 for Galatasaray, six for Stuttgart).
- Jonathas scored his first goal since November 2017.
- Stuttgart helped themselves to more than one first-half goal for the first time this season.
- Hannover have their worst-ever points tally after 24 matches (14) and have the worst defence in the league (55 goals conceded).
- The Reds have not won away from home in 24 away games, dating back to last season.
Stuttgart: Zieler – Beck, Kabak, Pavard, Kempf, Insua – Esswein (Donis 87'), Ascacibar, Castro, Zuber (Thommy 84') – Gomez (c) (Gentner 73')
Unused subs: Grahl, Aogo, Akolo Badstuber
Out: Baumgartl (concussion), Didavi (cold), Gonzalez (suspended), Sosa (adductor)
Coach: Markus Weinzierl
Hannover: Esser – Sorg, Anton (c), Felipe (Bakalorz 45'), Wimmer, Albornoz – Haraguchi, Schwegler (Müller 75'), Asano - Wood, Weydandt (Jonathas 45')
Unused subs: Sahin-Radlinger, Korb, Walace, Muslija
Out: Akpoguma (shoulder), Bebou (thigh), Füllkrug (knee), Hübers (knee), Maina (knee), Ostrzolek (ribs), Prib (knee), Sarenren Bazee (shin)
Coach: Thomas Doll
Watch: Zuber reflects on the importance of the win for Stuttgart