VfB Stuttgart coach Giovanni Trapattoni had more reason to celebrate than most as German clubs enjoyed a happy conclusion to a busy European week.
The Italian coach had been under fire after a series of disappointing results for his star-studded side. Club chairman Erwin Staudt had certainly made it clear that patience was wearing thin for Trapattoni, saying: "Our fans expect the best and not some time in the future but very soon."
With several big names having failed to perform since making high-profile moves to Stuttgart during the summer, many thought a UEFA Cup defeat at Stade Rennais FC would mark the end of Trapattoni's tenure, but late goals from Jon Dahl Tomasson and Danijel Ljuboja earned Stuttgart a 2-0 win.
"I would like to congratulate my team," said the relieved former Italy coach. "They reacted well to the recent criticism. We spoke about a few things on Monday and Tuesday and the team played really well. I hope that the win here will give us confidence."
Hamburger SV and Hertha BSC Berlin were also celebrating fine results away from home on Thursday night. Andreas Neuendorf scored the only goal of Hertha's win at Halmstads BK, leaving coach Falko Götz to conclude: "We dictated the pace of play for most of the match. Therefore we deserved to win."
Hamburg coach Thomas Doll was relieved to see his side win 1-0 at PFC CSKA Sofia, especially as he was serving a touchline ban. He was delighted with the way his assistant Ralf Zumdick deputised for him, saying: "Ralf did everything right. The result puts us in a great position for the remaining three games."
The UEFA Champions League also proved a successful hunting ground for the Bundesliga's best, with FC Schalke 04 drawing 3-3 at Fenerbahçe SK, Werder Bremen drawing 1-1 at Udinese Calcio and FC Bayern München winning 2-1 at home against Italian champions Juventus.
For chairman of the Bayern board of directors Karl-Heinz Rummenigge that latter performance was something special. "It was our best display in Europe since the 2001 UEFA Champions League final and it was extremely important for us to beat one of the biggest teams in Europe," he said.
However, coach Felix Magath was mildly less enamoured of what was generally held to be a splendid performance from his side. "We should have added more goals because we had enough chances," fumed Magath. "Juve's late goal could endanger our chances of winning our group."
Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick is worried that his side's failure to win in Istanbul may prove costly later too. "We threw away two important points," he said. "I am happy with the way my team played for most of the match but when you take the lead twice you should go on to win."
Bremen also went ahead in their game at Udinese, only to be pegged back by a goal four minutes from time. "We didn't create as much pressure as we usually do," said coach Thomas Schaaf. "We wanted to take at least a point but the result means that we have got our work cut out for us in the remaining games."
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