By Ultan Corcoran @UltanCorcoran
VfB Stuttgart made the trip to the Max Morlock Stadion to take on Nurnberg. On offer was a highly prized slot in the final four of the DfB Pokal. The matchup between the sides evoked memories of the famous 2007 Pokal final in which Nurnberg prevailed 3-2. However, these days the two clubs find themselves battling against relegation in their respective 2.Bundesliga and Bundesliga divisions. Although the game was scheduled for a 6pm in Germany, there was an additional 30-minute delay to kick-off due to supposed security reasons.
|Photo: Jeollo, Vfb-exklusiv.de, CC BY-SA 3.0|
The hosts, under the tutelage of the infamous Dieter Hecking started incredibly brightly. Roared on by an electric support, a 6th minute corner fell to Fabian Nurnberger who fired goalwards only to be blocked by teammate Hubner. Duah’s follow up failed to threaten. Aside from a Borna Sosa set-piece, the Swabians had struggled to impose themselves on the cup tie.
Nurnberg’s penalty shoot-out hero in the Pokal last time out, Peter Vindahl, was finally tested before the half-hour mark. A brave intervention from the Danish goalkeeper prevented Vagnoman from latching onto a dangerous Sosa cross. As is the case in high stakes cup clashes, chances were few and far between – scoreless at the interval.
Hoeness’ Stuttgart almost constructed a lead six minutes into the second-half. Sosa’s corner, met by the head of Waldemar Anton, would be denied by Vindahl. Past the hour mark and Haraguchi tried his look from 25 yards. The midfielder’s effort brought a save out of Vindahl who parried. Luca Pfeiffer was first to the loose ball however the striker badly spurned the opportunity.
Peter Vindahl looked set to become Nurnberg’s cup hero again on 70 minutes. This time two saves in quick succession to deny substitute Serhou Guirassy. The first an impressive sprawl to keep out a long-range effort, with the second narrowing down the Frenchman’s angle superbly. Ultimately, the Danish shot stopper was eventually undone by Enzo Millot who make it 1-0 to the Swabian side in the 83rd minute. An eye of the needle pass from Ito set the substitute on his way, as he remained ice cool under pressure.
A first taste of victory for Stuttgart’s new gaffer Sebastian Hoeness, who in doing so extracts some revenge for the Pokal final defeat in 2007. Nurnberg were more than a match for the Swabians, largely thanks to the heroics of Vindahl. However, Dieter Hecking’s side bowed out with the bravest of efforts.