Mortiz Leitner’s first ever Bundesliga goal put the visitors in the driving seat, but die Werkself hit back through Stefan Kießling and Eren Derdiyok to cap a miserable week for the Swabian strugglers.
On the back of Wednesday night’s agonising defeat to league leaders FC Bayern, Stuttgart swiftly set about their task. Leverkusen custodian Bernd Leno could only half clear a corner, allowing Borussia Dortmund loanee Leitner to break his Bundesliga duck at the 56th time of asking with a sumptuous curling effort from the edge of the box.
The hosts were almost back on level terms seconds later as Stuttgart’s Gotoku Sakai directed Lars Bender’s right-wing cross narrowly past the upright, but when Emre Can and Simon Rolfes combined to release Kießling in the 26th minute, last season’s leading marksman raced clear, tucking away his tenth goal of the season after a mistake by Antonio Rüdiger.
Leverkusen seized the initiative as Heung Min Son rifled a ferocious effort against the crossbar from the edge of the box. The South Korean then spurned a glorious opening, but not before Leno had been called on at the other end to keep out Vedad Ibisevic’s fierce downward header.
The battle of the custodians continued apace after the restart, with Stuttgart No1 Ulreich earning top marks for another point-blank save, this time from Kießling, before steering Gonzalo Castro’s dangerous free-kick away from the onrushing Simon Rolfes.
It looked like Leverkusen had met their match between the Stuttgart sticks, but not even Ulreich could prevent Derdiyok from finding the net six minutes from time. Fellow second-half substitute Sidney Sam supplied the goods and the Swiss international, without a goal since November 2012, was only too happy to oblige with a stooping header.
Sam should have put the result beyond any doubt late on, but his profligacy went unpunished as Ibisevic sliced over with the goal at his mercy to leave 13th-placed Stuttgart in dire need of a pick-me-up following four successive Bundesliga defeats.
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