Lukas Fröde’s first goal for Karlsruher SC gave them a shock derby victory over VfB Stuttgart to lift them out of the 2. Bundesliga bottom three and increase Stuttgart’s fears of missing out on promotion.
Marvin Wanitzek had given the hosts the lead early on, with Nicólas González equalising from the spot.
Karlsruhe never panicked though with Fröde making the most of confusion in the box to seal a valuable three points for his side.
Stuttgart put to shame by rivals
The performance here was as damning as the result for Stuttgart. It was a deserved victory for Karlsruhe who, despite dropping to 17th in the table, looked the most relaxed and assured in this game, to the extent that individual quality didn’t matter.
The result was the reward for the impressive work Christian Eichner has put in with this team, especially since the restart. Their defeat against FC Erzgebirge Aue last week was only their first since the season was stopped in March, and to pick up the valuable three points against a fierce rival that they hadn’t beaten since 2007 was all the sweeter.
By contrast, Stuttgart are in danger of missing out on a promotion that they still seem to believe is inevitable. They may have gotten victories over both Hamburger SV and Dynamo Dresden, but the draw against VfL Osnabrück last week was disappointing and three defeats in six at this stage of the season is too many, especially with 1. FC Heidenheim winning yesterday and now being only a point behind.
Pellegrino Matarazzo doesn’t have long to figure out a solution. They play SV Sandhausen on Wednesday, a side who on current form could easily inflict further damage on Stuttgart’s promotion hopes.
Stuttgart bounce back from early shock
Matarazzo had made two changes here with Orel Mangala and Philipp Förster dropping out in favour of Philipp Klement and Silas Wamangituka. Daniel Didavi had been expected to retain after a knee problem but was not in the squad. Eichner made four changes, welcoming back Manuel Stiefler and Philipp Hofmann from suspension, whilst Änis Ben-Hatira and, for the first time, Dominik Kother started on the wings.
Stuttgart had the first chance of the game, an unmarked Hamadi Al Ghaddioui having a shot saved by Benjamin Uphoff, but soon after they found themselves trailing. A poor pass from Marcin Kaminski was intercepted. Kother found Jérôme Gondorf, whose cut back was excellent put in on the turn by Wanitzek.
Matarazzo had spoken before the game about his side having a fear of losing the ball, and there was a certain tentativeness in their performance in the early stages. If not for a perfectly-timed Holger Badstuber challenge on Wanitzek, the former Stuttgart player could have made it two soon after.
Eventually though, they were able to assert themselves on the game. Uphoff beat Wamangituka to a good Klement ball, whilst González couldn’t quite find Al Ghaddioui with a cross. Soon after that, Gonzalo Castro played through to Wamangituka, who after an excellent first touch was brought down in the box by Stiefler. The penalty was awarded, with González sending Uphoff the wrong way.
Fröde goal more than deserved
Die Roten were unable to push on either side of half-time, with their attacking players continuing to frustrate, such as when Wamangituka blasted over a shot. Karlsruhe were still playing comfortably, and forced Wataru Endo to give away the ball on the edge of the box through intense pressing. Hofmann hit the post but was offside anyway. Following that, Kother headed over a Gondorf cross.
Stuttgart kept running into brick walls, often of their own making, and Karlsruhe became increasingly dangerous. Kother, Wanitzek and Hofmann all came close again before they restored their advantage with just under 20 minutes left. A corner resulted in a scrap in the box with Stuttgart unable to clear. The ball fell to Fröde, who find a way through to goal, his first since joining from MSV Duisburg in the summer.
They even threatened a third in the immediate aftermath. Ben-Hatira had a shot saved by Gregor Kobel, with Hofmann heading wide from the resulting corner. Förster and Mario Gómez had come on for Stuttgart and combined only for the latter to strike wide, as did Klement a few minutes later.
They went no closer to finding the equaliser, and were left to rue another poor display and a missed chance to return back to second. Karlsruhe though move out of the bottom three, with 1. FC Nürnberg dropping into the relegation play-off place as a result.
Karlsruhe: Uphoff; Stiefler (Thiede 70‘), Gordon, Pisot, Carlson; Fröde, Gondorf (Groiß 89’); Ben-Hatira (Djuricin 87’), Wanitzek, Kother (Lornez 70‘); Hofmann.
Stuttgart: Kobel; Stenzel (Phillips 86‘), Badstuber (Egloff 76‘), Kaminski, Mola; Endo, Castro (Förster 73‘), Klement; Wamangituka (Gómez 73‘), González, Al Ghaddioui.
Goals: Wanitzek (7’), Fröde (72’); González (35’ P).
Referee: Timo Gerach.
Elsewhere on Sunday
SV Darmstadt 98 are six points behind Stuttgart and whilst it may be too late for a promotion push, their 3-2 victory over Hannover 96 keeps them in the race mathematically at least. Patric Pfeiffer scored the 90th minute winner for them, after goals from Serdar Dursun and Fabian Schnellhardt. Edgar Prib and Marvin Ducksch scored for Hannover.
FC St. Pauli beat FC Erzgebirge Aue for the first time since 2013 to put five points between themselves and the bottom three. Dimitrios Diamantakos and Henk Veerman scored their goals in the first half, although the former also had a penalty saved by Martin Männel. Former St. Pauli defender Sören Gonther pulled one back for Aue in the second half.