STUTTGART, November 7 (Bundesliga) - Stuttgart maintained the pressure on Bundesliga leaders Werder Bremen on Tuesday night with victory over a Hamburg side whose misery shows no sign of abating.
The visitors arrived at the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion having won just once in all competitions this season and in the midst of an injury crisis which deprived them of seven key players.
And despite a spirited showing, late goals from Mario Gomez and Thomas Hitzlsperger condemned Thomas Doll's side to another defeat, one which could have ramifications for the former Germany midfielder whose job has been under threat for several weeks.
Hitzlsperger has struggled to hold down a regular first-team place at Stuttgart since joining the club from Aston Villa but he was a key man for the home side.
His first involvement came after 13 minutes when he fired in a trademark long-range drive. The Hamburg defence managed to block the effort but the ball fell to Pavel Pardo, whose cross was headed wide by Gomez.
The game was being contested primarily in midfield with few chances at either end.
Indeed, it took the visitors 27 minutes to register an attack of note, Mario Fillinger firing wide from 25 yards.
Holland international Rafael van der Vaart then tried his luck from long-range but that effort also went wide of the target.
Hitzlsperger had the final chance of the first half but fired over the top after Hamburg keeper Stefan Wachter had punched clear a Stuttgart corner.
Hamburg almost took the lead on the hour mark but German international Timo Hildebrand saved well to deny Piotr Trochowski.
Having competed so well for much of the contest, Hamburg then capitulated in the final 10 minutes.
The home side went ahead on the counter-attack when Christian Gentner burst clear and played in Gomez, who made no mistake with a clinical finish.
Hamburg heads dropped and Hitzlsperger capitalised, smashing the ball home after the visitors failed to clear an Anthony da Silva corner.
The win means Stuttgart remain two points behind Bremen while Hamburg continue to languish at the wrong end of the table having picked up just nine points from 11 games.