Bruno Labbadia enjoyed a comfortable VfB Stuttgart coaching debut as his side overcame Odense BK to cap a fine UEFA Europa League group stage campaign – a welcome relief from their domestic relegation worries.
Timo Gebhart got the ball rolling with the first of his two goals on 20 minutes and by the time Peter Utaka mustered a response midway through the second half the hosts had struck three more. Ciprian Marica restored the four-goal cushion in added time for a victory that took Stuttgart to 15 points from six Group H games; three more than they have secured in 16 Bundesliga fixtures.
The first goal of the Labbadia era came when Gebhart seized on a second chance after his goal-bound header was chested back to his feet by OB defender Anders Møller Christensen. Chris Sørensen whacked one against the outside of the Stuttgart post soon after, but Marica should have made it 2-0 before the break, blazing over from close range.
That miss was forgotten three minutes into the second half, though, as 19-year-old UEFA club competition debutant Daniel Høegh stabbed Gebhart's cross into his own net. From then on it looked easy for Stuttgart. Pavel Pogrebnyak landed a shot on the roof of the OB net and Marica missed his cue again moments later, failing to take full advantage after being left with only Emil Ousager to beat.
Substitute Christian Gentner duly made it 3-0, seizing on the loose ball after Thomas Helveg got in the way of Arthur Boka's shot, and further proof that OB's luck was out came when Pogrebnyak's shot was blocked by Møller Christensen only for backspin to take the ball over the line anyway.
Utaka clipped in a neat consolation, but Marica's fortune finally turned at the death as he used his strength to hold off Sørensen before firing in.
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