Goals from Sebastian Prödl and Fin Bartels either side of half-time, both created by Zlatko Junuzovic corners, ensured that the hosts remain unbeaten under new coach Viktor Skripnik, in a match also notable for Bremen’s first clean sheet of the season.
Prödl nods home
Coming into his first home Bundesliga game after the Matchday 10 win over 1. FSV Mainz 05, Skripnik opted to bring in Eljero Elia in an effort to give his side some more attacking flair. It was a move which didn’t pay off in the opening stages as the hosts began slowly against fellow strugglers Stuttgart. Indeed, Junuzovic enjoyed the only chance of the opening quarter of an hour, sending his long-range effort wide of Thorsten Kirschbaum’s goal.
Having felt each other out the game began to open up, belying the two sides’ lowly positions in the table. Sercan Sararer was lively for Stuttgart, and when he teed up Martin Harnik in the 21st minute from the right, the makeshift centre-forward should have done better. As influential as Sararer was at one end, Junuzovic was at the other, and it was his corner on the half-hour mark which found countryman Prödl, whose powerful header gave Werder the lead.
Bartels makes it two
Recognising that a loss would leave them in the bottom two over the international break, Stuttgart bit back. Sararer crossed wonderfully for Christian Gentner, who somehow headed over an open goal from mere yards out before Alexandru Maxim’s 34th-minute effort from distance flew over the bar. Four minutes later, Werder keeper Raphael Wolf ensured they went into the break with a lead for the first time this season after an excellent save from Harnik.
The opening to the second period may well have given the home side’s custodian the impression that he was in for a busy 45 minutes. Antonio Rüdiger just missed with an audacious overhead kick, while Sararer was involved in every attempt to fashion an equaliser. Bremen continued to hold a threat of their own, however, and although di Santo was denied after a brilliant last-ditch tackle, there was no stopping Bartels’ powerful strike after a clever corner from Junuzovic in the 57th minute.
di Santo comes close
As was the case following Prödl’s opener, Stuttgart responded well to going 2-0 down, enjoying over 60 per cent of possession, although they struggled to break down a Bremen defence visibly growing in confidence. Youngster Timo Werner replaced Sararer after 65 minutes and had the better of Theodor Gebre Selassie, but his side remained vulnerable in front of their own goal, Franco di Santo firing over just before the 70-minute mark.
As Bremen closed the game out by piling on the pressure, di Santo had another chance to seal the win ten minutes from time but, as it was, Skripnik’s side picked up their first clean sheet as well as their first home win of the season to leapfrog Stuttgart, who are left nursing their wounds in the relegation zone.
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