VfB Stuttgart beat Borussia Mönchengladbach, a first win under Tayfun Korkut, to put four points between themselves and the Bundesliga bottom three.
The win was thanks to an early goal from Daniel Ginczek, set up by Mario Gómez, with Gladbach offering very little threat in the first half.
The Foals improved after Raffael came on for the second half, but they failed to find the back of the net, with the pressure beginning to mount on Dieter Hecking and his side.
Ginczek puts Stuttgart ahead early on
It was a home debut for new Stuttgart coach Korkut, with some Stuttgart fans protesting the decision to sack Hannes Wolf and replacing him with the former Turkish international before kick-off. Both sides made one change from their games last weekend, with Ginczek coming in for Anastasios Donis for Stuttgart, and Jonas Hofmann replacing Patrick Herrmann as Gladbach looked for just a second win in five matches in 2018, having lost the other four.
The hosts started strongly though, with an early shot from Christian Gentner being sent wide by Tobias Sippel. Shortly after, the ball was given away by Gladbach’s Tony Jantschke with Stuttgart taking full advantage. Gómez set up strike partner Ginczek, who struck past Sippel to give die Roten an early lead.
Stuttgart were happy to sit back after that, except when Erik Thommy put a shot over. Gladbach were very ordinary going forward, and when they did get a couple of chances they fluffed their line. Vicenzo Grifo set up Lars Stindl, but as he went to shoot he lost his footing. Then when Ron-Robert Zieler diverted a Hofmann shot straight at Thorgan Hazard, his momentum prevented him from making a clean hit and Zieler was grateful to be able to claim the ball.
His opposite number had a lucky escape as well, after his attempt to punch a Stuttgart corner went straight to Gentner, who set up Timo Baumgartl for a shot over the bar, that coming after Gómez had failed to connect with a Gentner cross. Otherwise Gladbach, as had been the case for much of the half, were in control of possession but were in complete lack of a cutting edge, still trailing as they went in at half-time.
Raffael return not enough to inspire Gladbach goal
Hecking’s hand was forced by his side’s first half display and he made the inevitable decision to introduce Raffael from the bench, following his comeback from injury. With Hazard moving out wide, it had an immediate impact. A shot from distance from Stindl had to be saved by Zieler inside 30 seconds, whilst Hazard, thriving in his natural position, then set up his skipper for another shot, this time put wide.
Stuttgart looked incisive when they were able to get forward, even if Emiliano Insúa and Thommy crosses were dealt with, but things were continuing to flow better for the Foals. Raffael almost had his first chance only for Benjamin Pavard to make a late interception. A corner from Hazard a little later on was then headed clear, but only straight to the Brazilian. He whacked it on the volley, but Zieler kept it out.
The momentum was fizzling out for Gladbach, the introduction of Holger Badstuber allowing Stuttgart to switch to a back five. Hecking had brought on both Josip Drmic and Raúl Bobadilla in search of that elusive goal, perhaps in hope more than anything with neither having scored this season. Drmic did have one chance with just over ten minutes remaining, but it was wide and harmless.
Gladbach were throwing everything forward, even centre-back Jannik Vestergaard, and that created space for Stuttgart – an Insúa cross was cleared by Tony Jantschke, only for Santiago Ascacíbar to then shoot wide. Zieler had another worrying moment at the other end when he failed to deal with a Hazard free-kick, but he got away with it again.
Gladbach’s increasingly desperate efforts were not enough, and Stuttgart held out for the victory, with Korkut yielding four points from his first two games. Gladbach have now lost four out of five matches this calendar year, and whilst the European places are still only three points out of reach, Hecking’s position will come under increasingly-intense scrutiny if their form doesn’t turn around soon.