UEFA Cup: Stuttgart beat Rennes 2-0

VfB Stuttgart scored two goals in the last five minutes to beat Rennes 2-0 in a UEFA Cup Group G fixture played in Rennes on Thursday.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:48 IST
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VfB Stuttgart scored two goals in the last five minutes to beat Rennes 2-0 in a UEFA Cup Group G fixture played in Rennes on Thursday. A scrappy first half was played out in front of a partisan home crowd and it was the visitors who carved out the first goalscoring opportunity. They should have taken the lead, but experienced striker Jon Dahl Tomasson produced a weak effort when put through on goal with just goalkeeper Simon Pouplin to beat. Delightful cross The home side's best chance of the first half fell to John Utaka. Youssef Hadji picked out the Rennes striker with a delightful cross from the right flank, but Utaka could not produce a powerful header, and Stuttgart goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand made an easy save. Stuttgart ended the first half strongly. Winger Jesper Gronkjaer picked up the ball on the edge of the Rennes penalty area and, after moving off his left foot, delivered a thumping shot, which Pouplin did well to push away. The teams turned with the game still goalless, but the match kicked into life in the second half. Rennes seemed to wake up with 20 minutes to go, creating three chances that could have wrapped up the game for them. Well-worked free-kick First, a well-worked free-kick from Yoann Gourcuff provided Olivier Monterrubio with the opportunity to shoot from close range and Hildebrand did well to keep out the low, powerful shot. Alexander Frei then went close with a header, before Rennes should have taken the lead on 81 minutes. Substitute Jimmy Briand made a strong run down the left flank and slid the ball across the face of the goal, but Utaka made a complete mess of what should have been a simple tap-in at the far post. That seemed to kill off the Rennes challenge and Stuttgart finished strongly to win the match in the last five minutes. First, they fired a warning shot when substitute Danijel Ljuboja produced a curling free-kick, which Pouplin did well to keep out. Deadlock broken The deadlock was then broken in the 87th minute. A free kick from Thomas Hitzlsperger found it's way to the Rennes far post, where defender Mathieu Delpierre attempted a spectacular volley. However, all he succeeded in doing was crash the ball into the legs of teammate Tomasson and fortunately for Stuttgart, the rebound looped over Pouplin and into the Rennes goal. Rennes were stunned and went on to concede a penalty in the dying seconds. Christian Tiffert charged into the Rennes penalty area, where he was brought down by Erik Edman. A grateful Ljuboja stepped up to convert the spot kick and secure a hard-fought 2-0 victory for Stuttgart. (AP)