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Harnik strikes late to fuel Stuttgart

Odense BK 1-2 VfB Stuttgart
Martin Harnik struck four minutes from time as the German side made it two wins from two to head the Group H standings.

Martin Harnik celebrates after his late winner for Stuttgart
Martin Harnik celebrates after his late winner for Stuttgart ©Getty Images

VfB Stuttgart retained their position at the Group H summit by claiming a second straight victory thanks to Martin Harnik's late winner at Odense BK.

The Danish outfit appeared set for their first point of the phase when Andreas Johansson cancelled out Zdravko Kuzmanović's 72nd-minute opener. It was Harnik, though, who settled matters with a pinpoint chip with four minutes remaining to give Christian Gross's men a three-point advantage in the section.

Stuttgart, bottom of the Bundesliga after five defeats from six matches, started in the ascendancy with Serdar Tasci – a goalscorer in the 3-0 success against BSC Young Boys on Matchday 1 – twice close to an early breakthrough. The defender forced Roy Carroll to palm away his header from a Christian Gentner corner on 12 minutes then nodded over from close range after Mauro Camoranesi's free-kick had been flicked towards the far post.

Johansson prompted the Odense response, dispossessing Mamadou Bah and riding three challenges before stinging the palms of Sven Ulreich after 28 minutes, but the threat from the visitors remained as Camoranesi's drive from 25 metres was shovelled behind by Carroll.

The Stripes' custodian was a prominent figure after the break too, deflecting over Cacau's effort after the German international seized on Ciprian Marica's touch. Stuttgart's increasing influence eventually paid dividends when Camoranesi lofted a pass to Gentner, whose cross from the byline was firmly headed in by Kuzmanović.

The visitors were visibly boosted with substitute Harnik's snap-shot brilliantly flicked onto the bar by Carroll and there seemed only one outcome until Chris Sørensen fired in a low cross and Johansson darted in ahead of Arthur Boka to poke in the equaliser after 78 minutes. Harnik would have the final word, though, audaciously chipping Carroll from distance after Boka had robbed Eric Djemba-Djemba midway inside the hosts' half.