Despite putting the seal on an historic seven-team progression to the knockout stages in Europe for the Bundesliga's representatives, it was a disappointing evening for Stuttgart, who lost out to a first-half strike from Molde’s Davy Claude Angan.
The many empty seats at the Mercedes-Benz Arena notwithstanding, the two sides produced an entertaining opening half. It was the home side that had the first opportunity on goal, as the lively Ibrahim Traore made a menace of himself early on. The 24-year-old sent in two dangerous crosses early on, which were just a tad too far ahead of forward duo Vedad Ibisevic and Shinji Okazaki.
The Norwegian champions, looking to hit their hosts on the counter-attack, were always dangerous however. Angan gave the home side a scare when he rounded Sven Ulreich only to see his cross headed away from the danger zone by Georg Niedermeier, but Stuttgart’s luck ran out just before the break, as another breakaway move ended with Angan slamming home after Ulreich had parried his original effort.
VfB huff and puff
The home side emerged with renewed enthusiasm in the second half, and though Molde still carried a threat n attack, they spent the vast majority of the second period on the back foot. Substitute Martin Harnik was denied on several occasions by Molde keeper Espen Pettersen. Raphael Holzhauser also fired tamely at the keeper, as VfB laboured for en equaliser.
Harnik flashed a volley wide and Ibisevic dragged a left-foot shot wide with the goal gaping, but still the ball wouldn’t go in for Bruno Labbadia’s men. The news from Group E’s other game in Copenhagen, however, was that the home side were only drawing, ensuring Stuttgart would finish second place. That, luckily for the Swabians was how it stayed – a satisfying result on a very frustrating evening.
Stuttgart: Ulreich – Sakai, Maza, Niedermeier, Molinaro – Gentner – Traore, Torun (Harnik, 29‘) , Hajnal (Röcker, 88’) – Okazaki (Holzhauser, 70‘), Ibisevic
Molde: Pettersen – Linnes, Odegard, Forren, Rindaröy - Eikrem, Moström - Gatt (Hussain, 68‘), Berget (Simonsen, 79‘), Diouf - Angan (Chima, 64‘)
Goal: 0-1, Angan 42’