Late goals from Jon Dahl Tomasson and Danijel Ljuboja ensured VfB Stuttgart made a successful start to their UEFA Cup Group G campaign with a 2-0 win at Stade Rennais FC in France.
Rennes paid for missing their best chances in the final ten minutes of the game with two goals in the last three minutes giving Stuttgart victory. The German side therefore eased the pressure on Giovanni Trapattoni, rewarding the Italian coach for some uncharacteristically adventurous tactics in Brittany.
The visitors held the upper hand in the first half with Tomasson spurning the best chance of the opening 45 minutes when put through by Ludovic Magnin. The Danish international's shot was too weak to cause Simon Pouplin any problems in the Rennes goal. However, Trapattoni introduced Ljuboba as a replacement for Jesper Grønkjær early in the second period and the move proved a masterstroke; Stuttgart looked a transformed side with Jeronimo Cacau twice blazing over.
Olivier Monterrubio had the home side's first chance of the game after 71 minutes when he connected with a well-worked free-kick, but Timo Hildebrand collected the ball at the second attempt. However, with ten minutes remaining Rennes should have gone ahead when Jimmy Briand's cross was met at the far post by John Utaka, only for the Nigerian to drag his shot wide.
At the other end, Pouplin had to be alert to palm Ljuboja's free-kick out of danger while Tomasson came close to breaking the deadlock in a goalmouth scramble before the visitors took the lead in bizarre fashion with three minutes remaining. Thomas Hitzlsperger's acrobatic effort was heading nowhere until it clipped the shin of Tomasson to spin over Pouplin and drop into the net.
Then, in the final minute, Erik Edman was punished for a block on Christian Tiffert, allowing Ljuboja the chance to double the lead from the penalty spot and get the visitors' campaign off to a perfect start.
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