A late Christian Gentner strike earned VfB Stuttgart a comfortable victory against Slovenian side NK Domžale in the UEFA Cup first-round first leg at the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion.
The home team controlled the game from the first whistle, and it was little surprise when Jon Dahl Tomasson broke the deadlock just seven minutes into his European debut for the German club. But despite their supremacy, Stuttgart did not seal the win until two minutes from time when Gentner's low drive finally ended Domžale's stubborn resistance.
The visitors were on the back foot as early as the second minute when Dejan Djuranovic rifled a shot just over the crossbar. Having made a poor start to the Bundesliga season with no wins from four outings, Stuttgart needed a lift and duly got it when Danish forward Tomasson headed in following fine work from Swiss defender Ludovic Magnin on the left flank.
The Bundesliga team looked to press home their advantage and Gentner and Jesper Gronkjær both tested Domžale goalkeeper Dejan Nemec before Fernando Meira saw his well-struck attempt acrobatically turned around the post. At the other end, Domžale were being restricted to long-range efforts, and Timo Hildebrand had little trouble blocking Zlatan Ljubijankič's optimistic 20-metre shot.
Moments before half-time Danijel Ljuboja could, and perhaps should, have doubled the lead with a close-range header but was denied by Nemec although the goalkeeper was helpless on 54 minutes. Serbo-Montenegrin striker Ljuboja was again the threat but contrived to nod Gronkjær's testing cross wide from five metres as a nervous Stuttgart struggled to make their dominance count.
With his more experienced team-mates floundering, 20-year-old Gentner displayed some much-needed incisiveness, receiving an adroit back-heel from substitute Christian Tiffert and drilling a low shot into the bottom-left corner to secure a good position ahead of the second leg in Slovenia in a fortnight.