Paderborn - VfB Stuttgart secured their own Bundesliga safety and relegated SC Paderborn 07 in the process with a thrilling 2-1 win at the Benteler Arena.
Cat amongst the pigeons
The home side were dreaming of the improbable when Marc Vucinovic scored early on, but Stuttgart overcame their poor start and emerged as worthy winners thanks to goals from Daniel Didavi and Daniel Ginczek.
The home side needed nothing less than a win to have any chance of staying up, and they threw the relegation race wide open in just the fourth minute, with Vucinovic’s arrowed finish taking them off the bottom and into the play-off spot as things stood. Stuttgart threatened an immediate response through the lively Filip Kostic, but Paderborn grew in confidence as the first half progressed.
Moritz Stoppelkamp lashed a decent effort wide, but the impressive Kostic could not be subdued, and it was through him that VfB equalised, Didavi sweeping home from the Serb’s deflected cross on 36 minutes. The goal turned the balance of play firmly in Stuttgart’s favour, and a minute later, Martin Harnik should have made it 2-1, but could only divert another Kostic centre wide.
Let off for the hosts
Indeed, such was the away side’s dominance that they could have even been 3-1 up going into the interval, as Daniel Ginczek fluffed his lines to shoot wide from six yards. Christian Gentner missed another great chance just after the break, and the gravity of VfB’s profligacy was thrown into sharper relief by news that Hamburger SV were beating FC Schalke 04, with VfB facing automatic relegation in 17th place.
To the travelling fans’ encouragement, however, Stuttgart continued to dominate, with Kostic nigh on unplayable. Harnik almost converted from another one of his crosses, before his deflected shot drifted wide. Finally, Ginczek fired them in front with a cool finish after rounding Lukas Kruse, taking his side to the safety of 15th in the table.
The open nature of the game ensured that Andre Breitenreiter’s men retained a threat, with Elias Kachunga shooting straight at the goalkeeper and then seeing another shot blocked, but Huub Stevens’ charges appeared to have the nous to see out the result. Georg Niedermeier was sent on for some extra defensive reinforcement and the home side’s belief slowly dissipated.
The final whistle sounded soon afterwards to spark scenes of jubilation on the away bench, while Paderborn, though left to reflect on an instant return to the second tier, were saluted by their support for an extraordinary season in which they more than played their part.
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