Stefan Aigner put the Eagles in front, but a Vedad Ibisevic penalty early in the second half sparked Stuttgart into life, as Georg Niedermeier headed in a winner for Bruno Labbadia’s men, who moved up into twelfth place to ease their relegation concerns.
Defence put to the test
Stuttgart’s already feeble confidence was put to the test by an exhibitive Frankfurt side, keen to take advantage of their guests’ elimination from Europe on Thursday. They were rewarded with the opening goal, set up majestically by Pirmin Schwegler and finished off equally delightfully by Aigner as the Stuttgart defence showed the kind of frailties which cost them dearly against S.S. Lazio.
The goal stung the visitors, who tried to respond through Shinji Okazaki, but their defensive shortcomings were all too noticeable, as Frankfurt posed a threat with every attack. Bruno Labbadia’s men looked to relieve the pressure on their own back line, yet chances remained few and far between, with Ibisevic going it alone, but failing to beat Kevin Trapp, just before half time.
Unable to break through in open play, Stuttgart were gifted the chance to level from the penalty spot when Pirmin Schwegler brought down Arthur Boka inside the penalty area, allowing Ibisevic to step up and convert his fifth spot-kick of the season. Back on terms, VfB's confidence grew, and even their defence started to look more solid, with Niedermeier making a fine intervention to deny Alexander Meier.
The defender then made his presence felt at the other end, converting Alexandru Maxim’s corner with a towering leap. Frankfurt coach Armin Veh’s response was to introduce Srdjan Lakic in an attempt to put the Swabian rearguard to the test. Antonio Rüdiger was brought on to stiffen the Stuttgart resolve, and they held on to celebrate their sixth away win of the season - only league leaders FC Bayern Munich (12) have won more.
Frankfurt’s defeat leaves them with just nine points in nine games since the turn of the year, less than half of the 19 they had accumulated in the first 9 games of the season. As a result, they are now just a point ahead of eighth-placed Hamburger SV, and with a fight on their hands to qualify for Europe next season.
Line-ups and statistics