Berlin, Aug 30: Goran Mujanovic’s last gasp goal resulting in a 2-2 draw eliminated Stuttgart from the Europa League qualifier as Rijeka won 4-3 on aggregate, following the second leg.
Stuttgart will not play in Europe this season as the German side failed to turn around a 1-2 first leg loss, as the 2-2 draw on home soil Thursday wasn’t enough. It was another setback for the ‘Swabians’ who sacked coach Bruno Labbadia this week owing to weak performances, reports Xinhua.
The Germans piled on the pressure from kick-off to stage a dedicated and offensive performance. Consequently, Stuttgart’s Cacau, Martin Harnik, Arthur Boka and Ibrahima Traore came close to open the scoring, but lacked in accuracy.
However, the first goal was scored at the other end of the pitch as the visitors from Croatia broke the deadlock through Leon Benko (30th minute). The striker slotted home into the open goal as he capitalised on a black-out by Stuttgart’s goalkeeper Sven Ulreich and defender Benedikt Roecker.
Stuttgart responded five minutes later when Christian Gentner curled the ball from inside the box into the top right corner. The hosts were on the right track when Rijeka’s Luka Maric poked home in the 75th minute.
Nevertheless, things changed in the dying minutes as Mujanovic utilised a misplaced pass by Traore to beat onrushing Stuttgart keeper Ulreich.
Stuttgart still have a minimal chance to grab a berth in the Europa League as a ‘Lucky Loser’.
“My team gave everything but we made too many mistakes. We need to reduce them,” Stuttgart coach Thomas Schneider said.