VfL had lost on their last two visits to Stuttgart, and an energetic performance from the relegation-threatened home team ensured that undesirable series would stretch to three. The Wolves fought bravely in the second half, but could not break down a determined back line, and they consequently remain in seventh place in the Bundesliga standings.
Bruno Labbadia made just one change to the team that defeated 1. FC Nürnberg, bringing the previously suspended William back in to bolster a rearguard deprived of the talents of John Brooks for the closing stages of the season. Elvis Rexhbeçaj dropped to the bench, while Renato Steffen continued to fill in at left-back in place of Jerome Roussillon.
Castro breaks deadlock
Stuttgart began the match in impressive fashion, testing Pavao Pervan on a couple of occasions and making a serious claim for a penalty. The rain lashing down on the pitch made accurate passing difficult for both sides, but the Wolves gradually gained a foothold, putting the home defence under slightly more pressure via speculative efforts from Admir Mehmedi and Maxi Arnold. Just before the break, VfB took the lead, however, as Gonzalo Castro’s deflected shot from the edge of the box found its way past Pervan.
Stuttgart turn screw
Cheered on by a noisy travelling section, the visitors pushed for an equaliser in increasingly difficult second-half conditions, but it was Stuttgart who would double their lead after 55 minutes, Anastasios Donis expertly guiding substitute Daniel Didavi’s cross into the net. Bruno Labbadia subsequently threw caution to the wind, introducing Daniel Ginczek and Josip Brekalo, but the VfB defence held firm. Seven minutes from time, former Wolfsburg man Didavi sealed the victory and his side’s berth in the relegation play-off, making space for himself in the box and coolly stroking home.
Despite the loss, VfL remain very much in the hunt for UEFA Europa League qualification, but a home win over FC Augsburg in the final game of the campaign next weekend is now essential.
VfB Stuttgart: Zieler – Insua, Kempf, Kabak, Pavard – Castro, Esswein (Didavi 53’), Akolo (Aogo 76’), Gentner (c) – Donis (Badstuber 79’), González
VfL Wolfsburg: Pervan – William (Brekalo 75’), Knoche, Tisserand, Steffen – Arnold, Guilavogui (c), Gerhardt (Ginczek 59’) – Mehmedi – Klaus (Malli 46’), Weghorst
Goals: Castro (45’), Donis (55’), Didavi (83’)
Yellow cards: Esswein / Guilavogui, Tisserand
Referee: Dr. Felix Brych (Munich)