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By ESPN Staff

Tomasson hands Trapattoni a lifeline

FRANKFURT, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Jon Dahl Tomasson handed Giovanni Trapattoni a lifeline by leading VfB Stuttgart to a 2-0 win away to Stade Rennes in the UEFA Cup.

The question now is whether the Italian coach can hang on for the next two league games while the Denmark striker completes a three-match suspension.

Trapattoni's credit with Stuttgart president Erwin Staudt appears to have run out following a decline in domestic form from merely mediocre to outright terrible.

Stuttgart needed a last-minute own goal to rescue a point from last weekend's game at home Borussia Moenchengladbach in what was a new low for a team who challenged for the title last season.

'Our fans expect better,' Staudt said after a result that left Stuttgart in ninth place with 11 points from nine games. 'Not at some time in the future, but now. Our patience is not limitless.'

Trapattoni, 66, who had two spells in charge of Bayern Munich earlier in his career, was brought in to replace Matthias Sammer for the new season after leading Benfica to the title in Portugal.

The former Italian national team coach was criticised early on for dropping captain Zvonimir Soldo as part of a squad rotation policy and for confusing the players with his system.

So far, the only positive has been the form of former AC Milan striker Tomasson.

Tomasson has scored four league goals seemingly by force of will while the team have struggled to create clear chances.

His goal in the 87th minute against Rennes was followed by a Danijel Ljuboja penalty with only seconds remaining, as Stuttgart gave themselves the perfect platform to qualify from Group G.

Tomasson will be missing on Sunday when Stuttgart play away at Bayer Leverkusen, another struggling side, and again for the game against Hertha Berlin on October 29 but Trapattoni is confident the corner has been turned.

'I know we're going in the right direction now,' the coach said. 'We have a lot of players just coming into good form.'