Thursday, 4 November 2010

Europa League: Getafe 0-3 Stuttgart

0-1 Marica 25'
0-2 Gebhart 63'
0-3 Harnik 76'

Stuttgart ran riot at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez on Thursday night, thrashing a lacklustre Getafe 3-0 in the fourth matchday of the 2010-11 Europa League group stage.

The hosts could not make the most of the few chances that they created, with their moves often breaking down on the edge of the area; Stuttgart, meanwhile, were confident in front of goal and were well worth the margin of victory.

The result sees Stuttgart advance to the next stage with a 100% record, but Getafe's Europa League dreams remain hanging by a thread as they languish on just three points from a possible twelve.

With the home support depleted to around 2,000 - due in part to high ticket prices - the visiting Stuttgart contingent had the most occasion to make noise on what was yet another disappointing evening for the hosts.

Getafe started in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation and with a recognisable first eleven, although the inclusion of forgotten man Ibrahim Kas at centre-back was a surprise. Also unusual was the inclusion of Adrian Sardinero, a reserve player making a rare first team appearance.

Stuttgart, meanwhile, went 4-4-2, and although they had to do without Khalid Boulahrouz and Pavel Pogrebnyak, their line-up was generally un-rotated from regular league play, with Mathieu Delpierre overcoming injury in time to start.

Geta had the best of the early stages, Colunga hitting the side netting with a solo effort and Sardinero having a penalty claim turned down when his strike from the edge of the area appeared to hit Tasci's elbow.

Stuttgart should have gone ahead on the quarter-hour mark, though, with Ciprian Marica's superb solo run bringing out a low save from Oscar Ustari: as the ball trickled across an open goalmouth, Mauro Camoranesi somehow contrived to send it wide of the target.

Indeed, Marica was fast becoming the star of the show in the early stages, with rotated right-back Victor Sánchez struggling to deal with his wide play.

It was not a great surprise when the Romanian star gave Stuttgart the lead. Derek Boateng committed an uncharacteristic howler by giving the ball away to the forward twenty-five yards from goal, and with no blue shirts nearby the Romanian was able to take his time and place his shot low past Ustari for the opener on 25 minutes.

Six minutes later, following a series of Stuttgart corners, Javier Arizmendi was afforded a chance on the counter but skimmed the top of the bar from the edge of the area.

For the most part, though, the remainder of the first half was all Stuttgart: die Roten should in fact have gone two up when Delpierre's deep cross left Kas standing and allowed Martin Harnik a free header. His attempt, though, hit the post and bounced wide.

The barrage continued as three minutes later Boka teed up Kuzmanovic to play a fine ball across goal, only for Harnik to shoot straight at Ustari from an unmarked position.

Harnik again found himself denied by Ustari, and then on the whistle Juan Angel Albín summed up Getafe's opening 45 with a poorly-taken free-kick that slammed straight off the German wall before a rebounding shot flew wide of the target.

After the break Getafe's night was further exemplified as Croatian referee Marijo Strahonja booked Cata Díaz and substitute Javier Casquero for protesting after the whistler pulled back play following a quickly-taken Getafe free-kick.

Seconds later, though, Javier Arizmendi's header from an Adrian Colunga cross had Sven Ulreich beaten, but narrowly missed the target.

Although Getafe enjoyed the best of the possession after the restart, they were struggling to convert possession into chances. Thus on came skipper Manu del Moral for Sardinero, while Stuttgart brought on Timo Gebhart for Serdar Tasci.

The change seemed to pay off as Geta enjoyed a series of chances in quick succession. The best of all fell to Adrian Colunga, who beat the offside trap to meet Javier Arizmendi's cross but shot straight at Ulreich when one-on-one.

All hope of a result disappeared three minutes later as Stuttgart managed their second goal. Marica and Kuzmanovic combined well to keep possession on the edge of the area before slipping the ball to the unmarked Gebhart, who had plenty of time to place his shot into the bottom corner of the net.

Getafe continued to press forward, though, with plenty of crosses coming in from the right courtesy of Arizmendi and Colunga, albeit to little effect.

But it was all too easy for Stuttgart who duly made it three: Marica sprayed the ball out wide for Boya, who in turn launched an incredible first-time cross to the far post, where Hernik had got in ahead of Cata Diaz to finally land his first goal of the evening with fifteen minutes to go.

It seemed as though it would be the perfect evening for Stuttgart, but in fact die Roten were hit by a hammer blow as Marica - not a first team regular, but one of their top performers on the night - was shown the red card after what seemed to be a fairly innocuous confrontation with Casquero.

Still, that was not enough to dampen the visiting fans' enthusiasm; as the home support trooped out in near silence, the German songs rang long and loud into the night.

Getafe face Barcelona at home this weekend, and their next Europa League fixture is at OB Odense on December 1st.

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