Saturday, 20.03.2010, 15:30 Uhr
2 : 0 (1 : 0)
Didier Ya Konan
For the home game in the Bundesliga against Hannover 96, VfB trainer Christian Gross opted to make two changes to his starting eleven in comparison with the side that began in the 0-4 defeat in Barcelona during the week. In place of Christian Träsch (angina) and Cacau, the trainer brought Timo Gebhart and Ciprian Marica respectively.
Tempo, but no early goals
In front of a crowd of 41,000 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, VfB put on the pressure from the outset and took control of proceedings on the pitch. With just two minutes on the clock, Zdravko Kuzmanovic tested 96 keeper Florian Fromlowitz with a shot from distance. Shortly afterwards, Aliaksandr Hleb played a perfect pass through to Sami Khedira, who drove into the penalty area and then played a high ball to Ciprian Marica at the back post, but the Romanian's header proved narrowly off target. In a pacy opening phase, VfB kept the pressure on and the tempo up, pressing their opponents high up the pitch and searching for an opening. In the 36th minute, VfB finally made their deserved breakthrough. Aliaksandr Hleb broke on the left, beat two defenders and crossed perfectly for Marica to fling himself full-stretch at the ball and make it 1-0 for Stuttgart. Just minutes later the Romanian was unfortunate to see a header from point blank range bounce away off the crossbar and so, the hosts took their lead into the half time break.
Controlled home win
For the second half, VfB defender Khalid Boulahrouz was introduced in place of Stefano Celozzi. The home side continued to control the match and pushed for a decider - which Ciprian Marica would provide in the 54th minute!
Deep in his own half, Hannover defender Christian Schulz played an extremely risky pass back across his own penalty area which was cleverly intercepted by Marica, who then drove the ball home from 14 meters out - 2-0! With the second goal providing a comfort zone, VfB took the foot off the gas and played a controlled game going forward for the duration. With nine minutes to go, Pavel Pogrebnyak was presented with an opportunity to extend the VfB lead but instead of attempting to strike from a tight angle, the Russian striker tried to square the ball. Fromlowitz was down quickly though to smoother the danger before a Stuttgart player could get on the ball. In the end VfB cleverly played out a deserved 2-0 win.