Hamburg - VfB Stuttgart lifted themselves off the foot of the Bundesliga and level on points with Hamburger SV with a 1-0 win at the Imtech Arena on Matchday 16.
Hamburg out of their comfort zone
Florian Klein scored the all-important goal to crown a strong first-half showing from Huub Stevens' men, and they managed to hold onto their lead without too much trouble despite being reduced to ten men when Georg Niedermeier was sent off early in the second half, ending Hamburg's run of three wins in a row at home.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga provided the first moment of danger as Hamburg showed why they have looked more comfortable on home soil recently, but after Sven Ulreich plucked the ball from the striker's feet, the hosts sat back a little too much inside their own half and allowed Stuttgart to take the initiative.
Martin Harnik sent an angled shot into the side-netting before a confident Alexandru Maxim tested Jaroslav Drobny from distance. Georg Niedermeier then headed a Maxim corner towards the far corner, where Lewis Holtby was on hand to turn the ball away before it crossed the line. The chances were multiplying for Huub Stevens' men, who soon gained the lead.
Klein crowns dominant spell
Harnik, Christian Gentner and Maxim saw a series of quick-fire shots blocked by an increasingly defensive HSV, who shot themselves in the foot when Rafael van der Vaart gave possession away cheaply, allowing Klein to play a neat one-two with Maxim before stroking the ball into the net.
Gentner nearly converted a header inside the Hamburg area as Stuttgart soon set about adding to their lead in the second half, but their hopes suffered a setback when Niedermeier was given his marching orders for a foul on Artjoms Rudnevs as he was just about to enter the penalty area. From the resulting free-kick, van der Vaart struck the crossbar, cranking up the atmosphere inside the Imtech Arena.
Stevens' calculated gamble
Stuttgart's strategy inevitably changed, even though Stevens resisted the temptation to make personnel changes, entrusting the ten remaining players he had initially chosen to see them through. As Hamburg came at the visitors, the Dutchman surprisingly opted to bring fresh legs on up front rather than at the back, aware that his side would most likely get chances on the break.
Daniel Ginczek and Timo Werner were those new options and both had chances to seal Stuttgart's win while, at the back, Stuttgart looked as solid as they had done with 11 men, frustrating their hosts as much as the home fans, who witnessed their side's three-game winning streak come to an end against a rival who seemed hungrier for the points in northern Germany.
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