Stuttgart climbs out of Bundesliga cellar, tops Freiburg in Stevens' return
BERLIN (AP) — Martin Harnik scored twice as Stuttgart won 4-1 at Freiburg to climb provisionally off the bottom of the Bundesliga in Huub Stevens' first game back in charge on Friday.
Harnik scored against the run of play in the 31st minute, heading home from close range after Antonio Ruediger headed on a corner, and he should have scored another shortly afterward, when Roman Buerki saved in a one on one.
Vladimir Darida equalized with a shot from distance in the 42nd, and there was still time before the break for Felix Klaus to hit the crossbar for Freiburg. Carlos Gruezo restored the visitors' lead in the 51st and Timo Werner made it 3-1 in the 68th. Both goals were preceded by defensive mistakes.
Any hopes Freiburg had of a comeback were dashed two minutes later when Stefan Mitrovic was sent off for hauling down Harnik. The Austrian striker wrapped up the scoring in the 76th, set up by Japan defender Gotoku Sakai.
"A crazy result," Freiburg coach Christian Streich said. Stevens, who helped steer Stuttgart away from relegation last season, was reappointed Tuesday after Armin Veh resigned the day before. "We had a bit of luck in the first half you have to say. But we showed in the second half what can do."
Stuttgart, which lost its previous three games, moved into the relegation playoff spot, level on points with Freiburg, ahead of the rest of the 13th round.
"When you win away from home against a direct rival then it gives you confidence. But we can't get carried away," said Stevens, who had warned that avoiding the drop would be harder this time around.