VfB Stuttgart's impressive start to the season continued as they got their UEFA Cup Group G campaign off to a convincing start with a resounding win away to KSK Beveren in Belgium.
Last season's beaten Belgian Cup finalists were overrun by their German visitors, with goals from Kevin Kuranyi, Philipp Lahm, Imre Szabics and two from Brazilian forward Cacau wrapping up a emphatic win.
As expected, the home side started with ten players from the Ivory Coast in their lineup, midfield player Kristoff Lardenoit the only Belgian. Stuttgart coach Matthias Sammer, meanwhile, made two changes to the side that had defeated BV Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at the weekend, with Kuranyi starting in place of Hungarian striker Szabics.
In front of a crowd of 9,000, the visitors took just nine minutes to take the lead thanks to Cacau's fantastic shot on the turn. After some wasteful Stuttgart finishing, Kuranyi doubled the advantage from close range on 40 minutes, and went close to getting his second and Stuttgart's third with a header on the stroke of half-time.
Cacau's second gave the Bundesliga leaders a three-goal cushion on 53 minutes, and defender Lahm capped a fine personal performance 13 minutes from time with a rasping finish past Boubacar Barry in the Beveren goal.
Beveren, to their credit, continued to push forward against the impressive German side, and Stuttgart goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand dealt well with efforts from Romaric N'Dri and Moussa Sanogo. Ivorian striker N'Dri did finally beat Hildebrand and scored a consolation goal in the 87th minute with a fine free-kick, only for substitute Szabics, on for Kuranyi, to complete the scoring two minutes into added time. <
Stuttgart's next fixture in the competition is in two weeks' time when they play host to Portuguese side SL Benfica, while Beveren next play NK Dinamo Zagreb.