Returning hero Mario Gomez played his part as Stuttgart beat Hertha Berlin 1-0 on Saturday to start 2018 off with a precious win.
Stuttgart 1-0 Hertha Berlin
Goal: 1-0 (Stark o.g. 78')
Looking to end a run of four Bundesliga defeats, all without scoring, Stuttgart started well and Gomez was lively in the early stages, glancing a header just wide of the post after six minutes. Dennis Aogo also lashed an effort wildly over from a tight angle, but the better chances fell to the visitors. A superb move down the right allowed Mathew Leckie to cross low into the box where Valentino Lazaro struck the outside of the post, before Salomon Kalou almost crowned his 100th Hertha appearance with a goal. Gomez was denied a goal on his return when ruled offside, but while the Hertha defence stood firm, Stuttgart looked shaky, and Kalou blazed a header over the bar with half-time approaching.
The teams emerged from the dressing room with a spring in their step and the game quickly became stretched in the second period. Nevertheless, clear-cut chances remained at a premium, with Chadrac Akolo’s sliced shot from a good position the only opportunity of note. As in the first half, Hertha were defending well, but 12 minutes from time they were undone in bizarre circumstances when Niklas Stark somehow scooped the ball over his own goalkeeper under pressure from Gomez. Thereafter it was backs to the wall for Hannes Wolf’s side, but they remained solid at the back to ensure three vital points and climb, temporarily at least, to the relative safety of 12th in the table.
- Gomez made his first Stuttgart appearance since 23 May 2009, a 2-1 loss away at Bayern Munich, 3,157 days ago.Hertha have now gone 18 games without keeping a clean sheet. Stuttgart avoided an unwanted club record of going five league games without scoring.Vedad Ibisevic has failed to score in his last 11 games against former club Stuttgart.Before this game, Fabian Lustenberger last started a league game for Hamburg in December 2016.Hertha’s Australia international forward Mathew Leckie scored his first Bundesliga goals in the reverse fixture on Matchday 1, but hasn’t found the net in his last eight top-flight appearances.
Stuttgart: Zieler - Pavard, Kaminski, Baumgartl, Aogo - Gentner (c), Ascacibar - Özcan (Badstuber 82'), Akolo (Insua 70'), Donis (Ginczek 58') - Gomez
Unused subs: Meyer, Mangala, Burnic, Beck
Absentees: Zimmermann (cruciate ligament)
Coach: Hannes Wolf
Hertha: Jarstein - Weiser, Stark, Lustenberger, Plattenhardt - Skjelbred (c), Maier - Leckie, Lazaro (Duda 86'), Kalou - Selke (Ibisevic 77')
Unused subs: Kraft, Pekarik, Darida, Langkamp, Mittelstädt
Absentees: Torunarigha (suspended), Rekik (foot)
Coach: Pal Dardai
Watch: Mario Gomez reflects on his "special" Stuttgart homecoming