Bundesliga side Stuttgart have taken a big step towards the Europa League with a 2-0 win over visitors Dynamo Moscow. Stuttgart's frontman Vedad Ibisevic scored both goals in the second half against the defensive guests.
Stuttgart appeared to be struggling for much of the game against Russian visitors who were playing defensively on foreign soil and obviously hoping to do the damage in the second leg in front of their fans in Moscow.
Despite a host of chances, the Swabians were not able to break the deadlock in the first half; it ultimately took more than 70 minutes for them to open the scoring.
Goal-poacher Vedad Ibisevic finally found the net with around 20 minutes left in the game. Right-back Tim Hoogland blasted a low shot from distance that goalie Anton Shunin could only parry, Ibisevic was the first to pounce on the rebound.
Stuttgart made a few more chances, including a venomous William Kwist volley, in the latter stages of the game against a Dynamo Moscow side that finished third in the Russian Premier League last season. They finally found a crucial second goal in the dying embers of the game.
Late, but great for Stuttgart
Summer signing Ibrahima Traore helped Ibisevic double his tally in injury time. Traore rounded a couple of players on the right flank and delivered a pinpoint shoulder-height cross to the unmarked Ibisevic, who finished with a diving header at the far-post. Traore, 24, had a solid season with Bundesliga side Augsburg last season, scoring eight goals and creating a further 15 as the underdogs defied the odds and dodged relegation. Stuttgart, who have been modest in their transfer dealings in the summer break, picked up the Guinean international for free after his Augsburg contract expired.
Ibisevic joined Stuttgart from Hoffenheim in the winter transfer period last season and has been a revelation at his new home. The Bosnian goal-poacher scored eight goals and set up another seven in his first 15 appearances with the club.
On top of his double on Wednesday, Ibisevic opened the scoring in Stuttgart's 5-0 rout at Falkensee-Finkenkrug in the German Cup at the weekend - the side's first competitve match of the season.
The southwestern German club quietly racked up the third-best record in all the Bundesliga in the second half of last season, with only Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich outperforming them after the winter break. They're widely considered at least dark horses for another strong season this time out.
Stuttgart face Wolfsburg at home on Saturday evening in their first game of the domestic season. Coach Bruno Labbadia's side will then travel to Moscow to try to defend their 2-0 advantage over Dynamo in the second leg next Thursday. The overall winner of the two-match tie will earn a spot in the first stage of the Europa League.