Mario Gómez scored both goals as VfB Stuttgart beat south-west rivals SC Freiburg by two goals to one.
Having been handed a Germany recall earlier in the day by Joachim Löw, he headed in an early opener for die Roten, with Freiburg offering little.
Nils Petersen brought them level early in the second half, however Gómez struck again to continue his side’s impressive recent form and to keep Freiburg on the edge of the Bundesliga relegation scrap.
Freiburg fail to respond to Gómez’s early goal
Both these sides drew 0-0 last weekend, and whilst Stuttgart, still unbeaten under Tayfun Korkut, were unchanged after holding RB Leipzig on Sunday, Freiburg made two changes from their draw at Hertha BSC. Nicolas Höfler replaced the injured Amir Abrashi whilst Marco Terrazzino came in from Tim Kleindienst.
Freiburg started the night in 14th place and only five points clear of the bottom three, and they got off to the worst possible start. From a Dennis Aogo free-kick, Gómez was allowed to run clear of everyone else and got his head to the ball, beating a hapless Alexander Schwolow to net his fifth goal since his return to the club to mark his international recall in style.
They had chances to go further ahead as well. Christian Gentner’s weak shot was little concern for Schwolow, whilst he also saved from Gómez after the ball was given away by Robin Koch. Freiburg tried to show endeavour to get forward, but most of their attacks lacked bite. The best chance fell to top-scorer Nils Petersen, seemingly not of interest to Löw despite being the Bundesliga’s top German scorer this season, who hit the side netting following a free-kick.
Stuttgart did have the ball in the net before the break, in almost identical circumstances to the goal. Aogo took a free-kick from virtually the same position, and this time it missed the head of Daniel Ginzeck and went straight in. However Benjamin Brand saw a foul as the ball came in and disallowed the goal. It was hard to tell from the replays though where the infringement had come. VAR was not consulted, although there was certainly a case it could have come into play.
In the latter stages of the half, Ginczek headed wide an Eric Thommy cross, whilst Freiburg struggled to find any fluidity in their play, leaving Christian Streich, and their fans, more than a little frustrated.
Petersen stakes his claim before Gómez comes to the fore again
Despite the introduction of Florian Kath it looked like more of the same for Freiburg at the start of the second half. That changed almost from nowhere though. After Stuttgart failed to make the most of a corner and gave away the ball up-field by Thommy, Höfler found Petersen who inside the box decided to chip Rob-Robert Zieler, finding the net with his effort.
Freiburg were unable to build on that though. They had an appeal for a penalty rightfully denied soon after scoring, whilst substitute Kath had their only real chance to take the lead, but after a good move his finish was little trouble for Zieler.
Die Roten then pounced. Two of their veterans combined, with an excellent cross from Andreas Beck finding Gómez. He connected but his shot was blocked by Schwolow. He kept his wits though and was able to follow-up on the rebound for his second of the night.
Free-kicks from Terrazzino and Christian Günter couldn’t lead to a shot at a second equaliser for the hosts, whilst in open play they were again struggling to create anything of note. Emiliano Insúa almost helped to make it three at the other end, however he was cross was put wide by Gentner, who didn’t get the turn on the ball that he wanted.
At the other end they had defended well though, despite Zieler almost making a late, late howler, and they kept up that impressive run under Korkut, with five wins and two draws taking them now up to eighth in the table. Freiburg though will be hoping VfL Wolfsburg and 1. FSV Mainz 05 don’t pick up wins at the weekend, otherwise they will head into the international break with genuine relegation concerns.