VfB Stuttgart 2-0 Karlsruher SC: Asano brace sends Swabians top
Image credit: Bundesliga.de

A double from Takuma Asano was enough for VfB Stuttgart to secure a 2-0 win over Karlsruher SC on Sunday.

Team news

Stuttgart were keen to get back to winning ways after a series of draws, though Hannes Wolf's men had to do without the injured Anto Grgic. Berkay Özcan replaced him, while Julian Green dropped to the bench for Alexandru Maxim to start.

Marc-Patrick Meister didn't hold back in his first game in charge, and made six changes following their draw with Würzburger Kickers in midweek. Matthias Bader, Jordi Figueras, Benedikt Gimber, Franck Kom, Severin Buchta and Fabian Reese came in for Charis Mavrias, Bjarne Thoelke, Ylli Sallahi, Enrico Valentini, Jonas Meffert and Marvin Mehlem.

Asano nods home

The game began, unsurprisingly, with Stuttgart on the front foot as they created the first meaningful chance. Dirk Orlishausen palmed over stinging volley from Christian Gentner, which took a nasty jump after kicking up off the turf. At the other end, Florian Kamberi's effort from distance went narrowly wide under Mitchell Langerak's attention.

Stuttgart were on top despite the Kamberi effort and while that continued with Simon Terodde chance, there was a quick break as a flare ended up on the pitch.

Yet that break didn't halt the home side's march, and they went ahead not long later. The ball was worked out onto the right hand side before being brought back in by Gentner, who then produced a cross of real quality to find Asano. The Japanese timed his run to perfection and a simple glance saw him turn the ball past Orlishausen.

Kamberi was proving to be the only real bright spark for the visitors and a fine move between him and Reese resulted in a half-volley that zipped narrowly over the crossbar. From the sublime to near-calamity, a quick change of fortunes almost arose when a free-kick was almost deflected into his own goal by Kom.

There would be one final opening in the first half, which also fell to KSC. Kamberi was denied by Langerak's sprawling save, while Hiroki Yamada's follow-up was scuffed into the ground and cleared to signal the end of the opening period.

Tap in seals it

The start of the second half was delayed by around 10 minutes, as the Karlsruhe fans set off a sizeable pyro show. It culminated in Orlishausen having to chat with the ultras to calm matters down, which eventually prevailed. Terodde and Gentner both had early scoring opportunities but neither was able to truly trouble the KSC 'keeper.

A second goal was inevitable, and it came on the hour mark. A great ball from deep in midfield sprang Maxim through on goal, only for Orlishausen to pull off a fine one-handed save. The respite was merely momentary, as Asano popped up at the back post to force home the rebound and make sure of the three points. 

The remainder of the match was relatively quiet, although Daniel Ginczek, Matthias Zimmermann and Maxim all had chances to add to their tally. That didn't happen, and the hosts could celebrate a second derby win to go a point clear at the top. As for Karlsruhe, they are 10 points from safety with six games left.