bundesliga

VfB Stuttgart secure relegation play-off place with 3-0 win over Wolfsburg

VfB Stuttgart ensured they would contest the Bundesliga relegation play-off by defeating Wolfsburg thanks to goals from Gonzalo Castro, Anastasios Donis and Daniel Didavi.

VfB Stuttgart 3-0 Wolfsburg
Goals: 1-0 Castro (45'+1), 2-0 Donis (55'), 3-0 Didavi (83')

Stuttgart began brightly and thought they had an early penalty, only to see the referee wave their claim away twice, even after consulting the VAR. Chadrac Akolo, making his first VfB start of the Rückrunde, nearly became a hero inside 10 minutes, but his shot went just wide. After those early chances, the home side had to dig in and resist the Wolfsburg pressure as the visitors looked for a goal to support their push for European football. The VfB defence gave everything and limited the Wolves to only two shots on target. At the other end of the pitch, the wait for a goal would go on until the stroke of half-time. Stuttgart worked the ball into the attacking third and cut it back into the centre for Castro. The midfielder powered a shot towards goal and found the back of the net via a series of deflections and the woodwork.

Secure in the knowledge that 16th place was in their grasp, Stuttgart returned to the pitch aiming to make it a sure thing, and within 10 minutes a coveted second goal was theirs. Two minutes after coming off the bench, former Wolfsburg man Didavi played the ball right onto the boot of Donis, who steered into the back of the net. The two-goal cushion seemed to liberate Nico Willig’s men and they began to play with renewed verve and energy. Didavi added extra gloss to the result when he got his name on the scoresheet in the final 10 minutes. At the final whistle, the Mercedes-Benz Arena exploded with jubilation - Stuttgart had earned their right to fight for Bundesliga survival.

Anastasios Donis (c.) lifted the pressure on hosts VfB by getting their second goal shortly after the restart. - 2019 Getty Images

Match stats

  • Castro’s goal was his second of the season; he scored in Stuttgart’s 2-1 victory over Werder Bremen on Matchday 6.
  • Stuttgart continued their record of collecting all three points when they’ve opened the scoring.
  • Didavi’s goal and assist doubled his tallies for the whole season.
  • Having survived the relegation play-offs with Wolfsburg in both 2017 and 2018, Mario Gomez and Didavi now have the chance to complete a hat-trick with Stuttgart in 2019.
  • Wolfsburg had the majority of possession (58%).
  • Wolfsburg’s Robin Knoche had more touches (102) and won more tackles (19) than any other player on the pitch.

Line-ups

Stuttgart: Zieler – Pavard, Kabak, Kempf, Insua – Akolo (Aogo 76'), Castro, Gentner (c), Esswein (Didavi 53') – Donis (Badstuber 79'), Gonzalez
Unused subs: Grahl, Sosa, Dajaku, Gomez
Out: Ascacibar (suspended), Beck (knee), Maffeo (not considered), Zuber (knee)
Coach: Nico Willig

Wolfsburg: Pervan – William (Brekalo 75'), Knoche, Tisserand, Steffen – Gerhardt (Ginczek 59'), Guilavogui (c), Arnold – Mehmedi - Klaus (Malli 46'), Weghorst
Unused subs: Menzel, Uduokhai, Jung, Rexhbecaj
Out: Brooks (knee), Camacho (ankle), Casteels (thigh)
Coach: Bruno Labbadia