Stuttgart have qualified for the group phase of the Europa League after a 1-1 draw at Russian side Dynamo Moscow. The German side had done most of the work at home, winning 3-1 on aggregate.
It was not the most nerve-jangling event. Having won by two goals in the first leg, coach Bruno Labbadia's men always stood a good chance of securing a berth in the group stage.
And despite having enlisted the talents of former Stuttgart and Germany striker Kevin Kuranyi, Moscow simply didn't have enough in reserve to turn things around.
It was a good start for Stuttgart and in the 27th minute Martin Harnik came close by hitting the post. It proved the best chance of the half.
Fittingly, it was Vedad Ibisevic - who scored both goals in the first leg - who effectively wrapped the tie up, netting in the 67th minute. Despite Aleksandr Kokorin's equalizer 13 minutes from time, Stuttgart did not appear to be in too much danger.
"We pressed hard from the beginning," said Kuranyi. "Then we conceded a stupid goal and with that it was all over."
The goal for Ibisevic comes after a penalty miss at the weekend against Wolfsburg - his flawed follow up effort leading to a goal for the opposition. "I am massively delighted for Vladic Ibisevic," said coach Labbadia. "We told him after the miss at the weekend how important he is for us. That was a fantastic response from him."
Germany now has at least two representatives going on to the group stages - Bayer Leverkusen and Stuttgart. After a 5-3 win over Slask Wroclaw last week, Hanover also have a good chance on Thursday of winning the second leg to progress. The draw for the next phase takes place on Friday.
rc/mz (da, SID)