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A late goal was enough to condemn the Boys in Brown to a 1-0 defeat against VfB Stuttgart in front of another sell-out crowd at the Millerntor on matchday 18. Waldemar Sobota hit the bar on the stroke of half-time before substitute Carlos Mané struck an 84th minute winner for the visitors. A hard defeat to take on resumption of the league campaign.

Head coach Ewald Lienen was without no fewer than nine players going into the game. Aziz Bouhaddouz is still at the Africa Cup, while Sören Gonther, Jan-Philipp Kalla, Philipp Ziereis, Vegar Eggen Hedenstad, Christopher Avevor, Joel Keller, Ryo Miyaichi and Dennis Rosin are all unavailable. Forced to rejig his defence, Lienen handed under-23 player Yi-Young Park an opportunity to partner Lasse Sobiech in central defence following some decent performances during the winter break. Jeremy Dudziak began on the right of the back four. In striker Lennart Thy and the central midfielders Johannes Flum and Mats Møller Dæhli, all three winter signings featured in the starting lineup.

Both teams worked hard to keep things tight in the opening stages. The first hint of danger came from a Cenk Sahin centre that almost looped over Mitchell Langerak and into the net with 16 minutes gone. At the other end the situation almost repeated itself moments later when Christian Gentner floated in a cross that came down on top of the goal.

The game picked up pace after these two attempts and in the 20th minute Philipp Heerwagen produced an outstanding block to deny Takuma Asano in a one-on-one. Next, ten minutes later, Daniel Buballa burst into the Stuttgart box following a lovely Waldemar Sobota pass and rifled a shot into the side netting.

Sahin had already impressed with some excellent dribbling skills against Fürth, and in the 35th minute the wide player powered his way past three defenders, only to see his prodded effort collected by Langerak. Hannes Wolf's side remained a threat, however. Three minutes later Simon Terodde turned past Dudziak and Flum and shaped to shoot, but the better-placed Asano nicked the ball and dragged a shot well off target. Finally, following a string of corners on the stroke of half-time, Sobota hit the crossbar with another inswinging corner.

Mats Møller Dæhli & Co produced a committed performance in the first half against Stuttgart.

Mats Møller Dæhli & Co produced a committed performance in the first half against Stuttgart.

Ewald Lienen's side came out for the second period looking highly motivated. Though attempts on goal were few and far between, they penetrated the Stuttgart penalty box time and time again. St. Pauli dominated the play in this phase of the game and the visitors took some time to find their way back into the contest. Not until the 69th minute did substitute Carlos Mané set up Asano, who scuffed a shot wide from close range.

With the visitors now looking to push forward, the Boys in Brown took advantage of the space that opened up to string together a superb move on 70 minutes. Møller Dæhli gave a glimpse of his quality with a peach of a pass to Sahin, who hit the side netting from a narrow angle. That near miss prompted Wolf into a clear sign of intent with the introduction of a second striker in the shape of former St. Pauli man Daniel Ginczek.

Three points were also the target for the home side, however, and on 76 they carved out another opening for Sobota, whose curling effort was defused by Langerak. But with six minutes left the visitors struck in clinical fashion. Terodde slipped the ball through to Mané, who left Heerwagen no chance with a pinpoint effort into the top corner. Despite one final rally Lienen's charges were unable to cancel out that late Stuttgart strike. 

Hard to take! A late winner denied the Boys in Brown a well-deserved point and possibly more.

Hard to take! A late winner denied the Boys in Brown a well-deserved point and possibly more.

Goal: 0-1 Mané (84')

Yellow cards: Nehrig, Buballa, Neudecker - Gentner

Referee: Schröder

Attendance: 29,546 (sold out)


Photos: Witters