Martin Harnik told UEFA.com that VfB Stuttgart "still want to win every game in this group" even though a fourth successive Group H triumph, at Getafe CF, left them sure of a last-32 place.
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Forward Martin Harnik says that although VfB Stuttgart are guaranteed a UEFA Europa League round of 32 place after winning 3-0 at Getafe CF, the Swabian side are still seeking a perfect finish to Group H.
Despite being reduced to ten men by Ciprian Marica's late sending-off, the Bundesliga team enjoyed a comfortable night against their Spanish opponents with Marica, Timo Gebhart and Austrian international Harnik scoring at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez.
Their 100% record intact after four group matches, the 23-year-old Harnik now believes winning their remaining fixtures against BSC Young Boys and Odense BK would send out a message of intent. "You could say we can relax a bit thinking we are already through but we still want to win every game in the group," he told UEFA.com.
A faltering start to their domestic campaign may have left the five-time German champions in the Bundesliga relegation zone yet they put those troubles aside on Thursday to condemn their hosts to a third successive defeat in Europe.
"We played well. We weren't under too much pressure in defence and created good chances in attack," former SV Werder Bremen player Harnik explained. "We showed excellent fitness levels. We covered every blade of grass while making it very hard for Getafe defensively. Scoring good goals at important times helped too."
Had decent first-half opportunities not gone awry – including hitting a post – Harnik might have had a hat-trick but, as he explained, he was content with the fortune that brought him his second group stage goal after 76 minutes.
"I slipped on the pitch as Arthur Boka's cross was coming towards me but kept my eye on the ball and in the end managed to connect with my head," he said. "It was a bit lucky but in two situations in the first half I was a bit unlucky so it evened things up."
Meanwhile, Getafe goalkeeper Oscar Ustari cut a downcast figure after a loss that left his team requiring victories in their final two fixtures to be sure of progress. "We knew we needed to win this game, that's why I'm feeling very low," he told UEFA.com. "Stuttgart are leaders of the group and they showed why they are there. Hope is the last thing you lose and we've still got an opportunity to qualify so let's see what happens."