The exit from the cup didn’t throw Stuttgart off course. In the Bundesliga, VfB is immediately picking up speed again. But it’s not just the usual suspects who shine as goalscorers against Mainz 05.
After the bitter exit in the DFB Cup, VfB Stuttgart successfully managed their frustration and underlined their Champions League ambitions. The Swabians beat second-to-last FSV Mainz 05 3-1 (2-0) and consolidated third place in the table with their third league win in a row. The lead over fifth-placed RB Leipzig is already six points.
A double strike within three minutes from Maximilian Mittelstädt (45th + 2) and Jamie Leweling (45th + 5) paved the way for the return of top scorer Serhou Guirassy to ultimately secure his 14th success of the season. National team candidate Deniz Undav (73′) made the decision in front of 52,500 spectators, before Ludovic Ajorque at least scored the final point for Mainz (76′).
The Rheinhessen, on the other hand, are the only team in the league still waiting for their first away win of this season and are in acute danger of relegation. The gap to the first non-relegation place is now nine points.
The game was initially difficult to get going. On the one hand, because both teams couldn’t find a gap. On the other hand, due to fan protests against investors joining the German Football League. That’s why the game had to be interrupted in the early stages. Tennis balls and other objects kept flying onto the lawn. Referee Deniz Aytekin waited before sending both teams towards the dugouts. Only after almost a quarter of an hour did things continue – and how: After a cross, Merveille Papela missed the 1-0 for the guests from a tight angle.
VfB coach Hoeneß had hoped for a reaction after the 2-3 defeat in the quarter-finals of the cup at Bayer Leverkusen and warned against Mainz. “The table doesn’t reflect what’s coming up. We need a top performance,” he said. However, his team initially found it difficult to put their words into action. National player Chris Führich was still one of the assets.
Jan Siewert’s visiting team didn’t hide and came to the goal of Fabian Bredlow, who was replacing the ailing goalkeeper Alexander Nübel, mainly through counterattacks. At the last moment, Stenzel cleared the ball in front of winter newcomer Jessic Ngankam (37th).
Mittelstädt scores again
With VfB’s best opportunity before taking the lead, Führich alone made it too squandered in front of Robin Zentner. The fans were still able to celebrate before the break: in the long injury time, a cross from Stenzel flew past three defenders to Mittelstädt, who scored in the second league game in a row. Shortly afterwards, Leweling increased – Stenzel once again shone as a pioneer.
Mainz’s resistance seemed broken after the two setbacks. There was no decisive reaction to the “We want to see you fight” calls from our own fans at the start of the second half, although the changes in the offensive at least triggered a small impulse.
The hosts exuded a completely different self-image. Even after the break they took control and looked for gaps. But it took almost half an hour before things became really dangerous again. Undav gave Zentner no chance to defend himself. The Rhenish Hessians then rebelled again and came close again through Ajorque. But they couldn’t score another goal.