Schalke 04 1-2 Stuttgart

Stuttgart remain hot on the heels of league leaders Wolfsburg after notching a rare 2-1 (1-1) victory at Schalke 04.

In the absence of top scorer Mario Gomez due to a last-minute adductor problem, strikers Cacau (15.), and Ciprian Marica (57.) bagged the goals that gave VfB a timely first win in eleven years in Gelsenkirchen, to make it 22 points out of a possible 24 in their last eight games for the team from the south west.

Schalke's third successive defeat meanwhile rules out any slight remaining hope they had of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League.



VfB on the offensive

Stuttgart attacked from the off and were rewarded with a top-quality opener on the quarter-hour mark. Cacau pounced on a mistake by Mladen Krstajic and hammered home into the corner from the edge of the box.
Schalke tried to match their opponents in open combat and four minutes later Jefferson Farfan missed a great chance to equalise, heading over the bar from four metres out.
In the 37th minute, VfB keeper Jens Lehmann tipped over a long-range effort from Heiko Westermann and two minutes later the home side were level, Ivan Rakitic netting direct from a free kick.

Clinical finish from Marica

Schalke's Kevin Kuranyi twice failed to find the net from close range against his former club shortly after the restart (49., 50.), and the hosts would soon have cause to regret those misses. 
In the 56th minute VfB skipper Thomas Hitzlsperger let fly from distance and Royal Blues keeper Manuel Neuer could only bat the ball to the feet of Marica. 
The Romanian forward, a late replacement for Gomez, gratefully accepted the gift - and the points were Stuttgart's.