Five-goal Stuttgart boost survival hopes against 'feeble' Hanover


Berlin (AFP)

Stuttgart made an emphatic statement in their battle to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga on Sunday when they thrashed fellow strugglers Hanover 5-1.

Mario Gomez opened the scoring in the fourth minute, guiding a shot past Hanover goalkeeper Michael Esser into the bottom corner.

Ozan Kabak scored Stuttgart's second in the 16th minute, heading in from a corner and added another in first-half injury time, again with his head, this time to convert a cross from Gonzalo Castro.

Hanover coach Thomas Doll made two attacking changes at half-time, bringing on Marvin Bakalorz and Jonathas.

It looked an inspired change in the 69th minute when Jonathas cut the deficit to 3-1.

However, Stuttgart reasserted their authority with Steven Zuber adding two more goals in the 78th and 81st minutes.

Stuttgart coach Markus Weinzierl praised his team's character and quality, particularly after conceding midway through the second half.

"It is a super-important victory for us. We wanted to be wide awake and aggressive right from the start and we succeeded," he said.

"The score is an accurate reflection of the match. We were the better team over 90 minutes."

Doll agreed that the score reflected Stuttgart's dominance.

"After such an energy-less and feeble performance it is difficult to find words," he said.

"We are in a very bad phase and we have to come up with something in the next few days."

The result sees Stuttgart remain third from bottom but they now have a five-point cushion on Hanover who remain in the automatic relegation places alongside rock-bottom Nuremberg.

In Sunday's late game, Werder Bremen brought in-form Wolfsburg back to earth, leaving it late to poach a 1-1 draw at the Volkswagen Arena.

Wolfsburg had won three of their last four while scoring 10 goals in the process.

On Sunday, they dominated proceedings -? particularly in the second half -- and will be bitterly disappointed that they failed to convert after having a wealth of opportunities.

Wolfsburg went ahead in the 54th minute when American defender John Brooks rose above the pack to head in a free kick.

It was his fifth headed goal in succession.

Bremen bought on super-sub Claudio Pizarro in the 68th minute in the hope of an equaliser, but it was another familiar face in Max Kruse who bought Bremen level.

Kruse collected a Max Eggestein pass and turned it in from close range to score his sixth goal of the season.

Kruse's goal means Bremen remain the only team in the Bundesliga to have scored in every game during this campaign.

The result left Wolfsburg one spot out of the Europa League places while Bremen remain in tenth.