Stuttgart - VfB Stuttgart failed to qualify for the UEFA Europa League group stages after a last-minute HNK Rijeka goal earned the Croatians a 2-2 draw in Thomas Schneider’s first game in charge of the club.

Leon Benko capitalised on an almighty mix-up between Sven Ulreich and Benedikt Röker to give the visitors the lead. Christian Gentner equalised for VfB with a looping effort just five minutes later before Rijeka skipper Luka Maric turned the ball into his own net, yet there was a late sting in the tail as Goran Mojanovic equalised in stoppage time to seal a 4-3 aggregate win for the visitors.

Rijeka gifted the lead

Stuttgart created several good opportunities in the opening stages, but fell behind in bizarre circumstances after half an hour, Ulreich and Röker colliding with each other on the edge of the VfB box, leaving Benko to tap the ball into an unguarded net and extend Rijeka’s aggregate lead.

It didn’t take the hosts long to respond, as the ball landed at the feet of Christian Gentner on the edge of the box and, despite losing his balance, the 28-year-old managed to loop the ball over Ivan Vargic and into the far corner to give Stuttgart a deserved equaliser.

Stuttgart dispair

Stuttgart continued to dominate proceedings in the second period with Martin Harnik and substitute Timo Werner both going close to putting them ahead. VfB finally levelled the aggregate score in the 76th minute when Maric turned the ball into his own net after great work by Ibrahima Traoré on the right.

With the scores level on aggregate, the Swabian side pushed forward in an attempt to avoid extra-time, but their hopes of qualification were dashed in the cruellest of circumstances in stoppage time. Traoré lost possession in midfield, allowing Ivan Mocinic to play Goran Mojanovic through on goal, who calmly slotted past Ulreich to dump the hosts out of Europe.


Stuttgart: Ulreich - Schwaab, Rüdiger, Röcker, Boka - Kvist, Gentner - Harnik (Werner 56'), Cacau (Abdellaoue 73'), Traore - Ibisevic

Rijeka: Vargic - Tomecak, Leskovic, Maric, Skarabot - Males, Pokrivac - Kvrzic, Alispahic (Mocinic 67'), Anas Sharbini (Mujanovic 70') - Benko