Ciprian Marica, Timo Gebhart and Martin Harnik were on target against Getafe CF as VfB Stuttgart eased into the UEFA Europa League knockout stage.
Despite their Bundesliga difficulties, Jens Keller's side have been performing admirably in Group H and they made their first-half dominance tell when Marica took advantage of a Derek Boateng mistake on 26 minutes. Mauro Camoranesi found substitute Gebhart to slide in a second for the visitors after the break, while Harnik completed the scoring with a header shortly before Marica tarnished his night by being sent off 11 minutes from time.
Míchel's Liga team enjoyed a Matchday 1 victory over Odense BK yet their hopes of advancing are fading after successive defeats by Stuttgart, which have followed an away reverse against BSC Young Boys. Los Azulones did have chances in the opening half – Javier Arizmendi shooting narrowly over before Albín headed wide – yet they were fortunate to enter the break trailing solely to Marica's effort.
Twice in succession Harnik had the goal at his mercy, the Austrian international first heading against the upright when unmarked and then side-footing straight at Oscar Ustari from close range.
The hosts raised their game after the restart with Arizmendi heading narrowly wide from Adrián Colunga's cross, but the 2008 UEFA Cup quarter-finalists had little else to show for their efforts. Gebhart doubled the Swabian side's advantage after the hour and, continuing to look for options, Stuttgart found a third with 14 minutes remaining, Harnik slipping but still managing to get his head to the industrious Arthur Boka's centre.
While the result sent Stuttgart into the round of 32 with two fixtures to spare, it leaves third-placed Getafe needing to win their upcoming encounter away to OB on 1 December.