Werder Bremen go clear of relegation zone with rout of Stuttgart
Werder Bremen leapt out of the Bundesliga relegation zone in emphatic style on Monday night with a 6-2 win over Stuttgart, who took their place inside the bottom two on goal difference.
Fin Bartels put Bremen in front after 10 minutes but Daniel Didavi levelled for the guests.
Stuttgart's night started to take a turn for the worse when Federico Barba put through his own goal and Levin Oztunali added a third.
Barba made amends for his own goal by cutting Bremen's lead, but Claudio Pizarro, Bartels again and Anthony Ujah struck to earn Bremen all three points and take them above their visitors, who also dropped below Eintracht Frankfurt with their goal difference taking a big hit.
Bartels got Bremen off to the best of starts but much of the credit had to go to Pizarro for his vision and execution to pick him out with a ball over the top which the Bremen midfielder swept in off the inside of the right-hand post.
The pace of the game continued to be frenetic with both sides intent on attacking and Stuttgart levelled in the 26th minute when Alexandru Maxim pulled the ball back for Didavi, whose shot took a deflection off Jannik Vestergaard on its way past Felix Wiedwald.
Bremen regained the lead in the 33rd minute thanks to Stuttgart's seventh own goal of the season -- a new Bundesliga record.
Barba was the victim of their latest misfortune, heading the ball back into the goal which had been vacated by his goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton, whose shout had clearly not been heard by the Italian defender.
Stuttgart tried to bounce back and Harnik's header hit the post, but they found themselves two goals behind at the interval as Oztunali added a third for Bremen in the 42nd minute.
Zlatko Junuzovic took the ball past the hapless Barba and crossed for the midfielder to fire into the left-hand corner.
The home fan' celebrations lasted only a bit longer than the duration of half-time with Stuttgart finding a route back into the game early in the second half, with Barba making up for his earlier mistake by scoring a stunning first goal in German football.
He turned in Maxim's cross with a stylish backheel, and it was game on again at the Weserstadion.
Stuttgart enjoyed a good 10-minute spell in which they had Bremen on the ropes and the home fans biting down their fingernails, but Pizarro relieved the pressure with his 190th goal in the Bundesliga - his 13th in his last 13 games.
The Peruvian was given too much room in his comfort zone, just inside the penalty area, and he showed why he is the most prolific foreign goalscorer ever in the Bundesliga with the goal which finally finished off Stuttgart.
Tyton made a save with his foot to deny Pizarro a second and Bremen a fifth before the guests threw caution to the wind in search of a goal which could well have proved to be precious in the final relegation shake-up.
Losing by two goals meant they would fall below Eintracht Frankfurt into the bottom two on goal difference but things got even worse for Jurgen Kramny's men.
Oztunali did all the hard work to set up Bartels for a fifth in the 80th minute before Ujah added a sixth three minutes from time, accepting a gift from Harnik to penetrate into the penalty area and provide a cool finish.