IBISEVIC RETURNS TO HAUNT HOFFENHEIM
Vedad Ibisevic scored twice on his return to his former club Hoffenheim to earn Stuttgart a 2-1 victory in a Baden-Wurttemberg derby on Friday night.
The 27-year-old, who spent almost five years with Hoffenheim before leaving in January, gave Stuttgart a 2-0 half-time lead, with Sejad Salihovic's penalty not enough to prevent the hosts from losing their second game in a row.
The win moved Stuttgart above Hannover and up to seventh place in the Bundesliga, which could be good enough for a place in the Europa League next season.
Ibisevic did not have to wait long for a goal against his old employers, putting the visitors in front in the eighth minute.
He had Khalid Boulahrouz to thank for an inviting low cross from the right which left him with only Tom Starke to beat, and he left the Hoffenheim goalkeeper no chance.
Boulahrouz benefited from an equally good cross from Sakai in the 20th minute, but Starke made an excellent reflex save to keep out the Dutchman's header.
After a brief response from the home side, Ibisevic doubled Stuttgart's lead just before half-time.
He again linked up with Boulahrouz, who swung in a higher cross this time which his Bosnian team-mate headed home.
His compatriot and former team-mate Salihovic was introduced by Hoffenheim coach Markus Babbel at the start of the second half, returning after being dropped for a fortnight for disciplinary reasons.
His return seemed to lift the home team, creating a succession of chances for Peniel Mlapa, who was unable to find the route to goal.
Hoffenheim were awarded a penalty in the 74th minute when Francisco Maza fouled Fabian Johnson inside the area.
Salihovic stepped up to convert the spot-kick, giving the home fans hope their side could salvage something from the game.
The hosts could not find an equaliser, though, and they nearly conceded a third when Ibisevic dribbled the ball away from Starke, who had come off his line, but did not get into a shooting position.
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