By Mark Bennett at the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion
VfB Stuttgart avenged their 2-1 defeat in the opening match of this season's UEFA Champions League by beating Rangers FC and booking their place in the next round of the competition.
Wenzel wins it
The only goal of the game came on the stroke of half-time from Timo Wenzel and the hosts - who have let in just three goals in 13 Bundesliga games this season - never looked in danger of conceding after they went ahead.
Stuttgart coach Felix Magath looked to his usual 4-4-2 formation, whereas Rangers FC manager Alex McLeish picked a 4-5-1 lineup which quickly became 4-3-3 when in possession. The big surprise, however, was that McLeish chose to leave striker Michael Mols on the bench and instead looked to Shota Arveladze and Peter Lovenkrands up front, with Capucho just behind them.
With early qualification for the next round on the line for Stuttgart, and Rangers knowing that only a win in Germany would keep their hopes of staying in the competition alive, both teams were under considerable pressure and the match got off to a slow start. Stuttgart looked the more dangerous side in the opening minutes, especially when Andreas Hinkel and Aleksandr Gleb were involved on the right. In contrast, the visitors were quite content to wait for their chance.
That patience nearly paid off after 22 minutes when Fernando Ricksen came close to scoring the opening goal. The ball fell for the Dutchman after some confusion in the Stuttgart defence, but he was denied by a reflex save from Timo Hildebrand. One minute later Kevin Kuranyi found himself in open space on the break, but put his shot wide from the edge of the area.
In added time at the end of the first half, Stuttgart finally got the goal they wanted. From a free-kick Wenzel was left to run into the area without being picked up by the defence and his volley gave Stuttgart the lead and put even more pressure on Rangers.
Mols and Tiffert on
Both sides returned to the field unchanged after the break, but only five minutes into the second half Magath decided to take off playmaker Horst Heldt and replace him with the more defensive Christian Tiffert. McLeish reacted five minutes later and brought on Mols for Paolo Vanoli.
Despite the changes both sides failed to create any real danger in front of goal and with time slowly ticking away Rangers looked more and more desperate as they struggled to find a way to break down the Stuttgart defence. The visitors started to look to long balls which were easily picked off as Stuttgart were content to control the game.
On the hour Tiffert came close to doubling the lead after a good run and pass from Gleb, but the substitute put his shot wide and Rangers were at least left with hope.
Stuttgart hold firm
Twenty minutes from time, McLeish took an all-or-nothing approach and threw on a fourth striker in Egil Østenstad, but Stuttgart still had no problems in holding the Scottish champions at bay. They defended their lead without any concerns until the final whistle and booked a place in the last 16 of the Champions League at their first attempt.