Stuttgart - FC Augsburg maintained their impressive form on Matchday 20, stretching their unbeaten league run to eight games courtesy of an emphatic 4-1 away win over ten-man VfB Stuttgart.
Stuttgart on top
The hosts enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, but couldn’t prevent Arkadiusz Milik and Andre Hahn handing Augsburg a two-goal lead. Vedad Ibisevic was sent-off early in the second half before Hahn and Tobias Werner netted either side of Konstantin Rausch’s reponse, ensuring FCA stayed within two points of the European qualification spots.
The hosts looked intent on breaking the deadlock early and almost did just that when Mohammed Abdellaoue’s audacious backheel volley from Gotoku Sakai’s cross drifted over the bar. The Norwegian striker, who appeared to be playing on the right flank, was at the heart of the action again just minutes later when Alexandru Maxim’s free-kick caused havoc amongst the Augsburg backline. However, it was Vedad Ibisevic who got in the way of the eventual shot, deflecting the goal-bound effort wide of the post.
The midfield battle was clearly being won by Stuttgart during the opening exchanges as their pressing game regularly caught Augsburg dawdling in possession. Coupled with their innate ability to break forward at pace and Sakai’s marauding runs down the wing, goalscoring opportunites continued to present themselves with Abdellaoue, unmarked at the front post, failing to find the target with his header.
Missed chances punished
As the half wore on Augsburg began to settle, tightening up at the back and looking more assured in possession, with their patient approach eventually paying off, albeit with an element of fortune. Matthias Ostrzolek’s blocked shot fell into the path of Tobias Werner, who squared the ball for Milik to tap home into an empty net against the run of play. The opener threw Stuttgart off their game and with their backline losing its shape, Hahn doubled the visitors’ advantage at the break by curling the ball beyond Sven Ulreich in a one-on-one situation.
VfB head coach Thomas Schneider opted not to make any changes at half-time, but was dealt an early hammer blow when Ibisevic was shown a straight red card for an off-the-ball coming together with Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker. Down to ten men and trailing, things only got worse for the hosts when Ostrzolek capitalized on a lack of organisation in Stuttgart’s backline to play in Hahn, who showed great composure in sliding home his second goal of the game.
Augsburg press advantage
With the wind in their sails, Augsburg were stroking the ball about at ease, but were pegged back just past the hour mark when Moritz Leitner’s slide-rule pass allowed Rausch to knock the ball beyond the onrushing Alexander Manninger before rolling the ball into an empty net. However, the visitors wasted little time in restoring their three-goal lead as Tobias Werner broke in behind, skipping past Antonio Rüdiger’s challenge before curling into the bottom corner.
Having scored four goals on the road for the first time in 35 Bundesliga away games, Augsburg took their foot off the pedal, with Markus Weinzierl taking the opportunity to hand some of his first-team regulars a well-deserved rest. The changes disrupted the rhythm of proceedings, but for the visitors it was a case of job done as they handed Stuttgart their fifth-straight defeat.
Line-ups and statistics