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Updated January 15th, 2024 at 08:49 IST

Surprise Bundesliga contender Stuttgart starts 2024 with a loss to Gladbach after 21-second goal

Stuttgart was a surprise challenger in the Bundesliga at the conclusion of 2023. However, it became evident after just 21 seconds of play in its opening 2024 match how difficult it will be to maintain the Champions League spots.

Monchengladbach
Robin Hack, right, celebrates scoring with Franck Honorat during the Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Monchengladbach and VfB Stuttgart in Monchengladbach, Germany | Image: AP
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Stuttgart ended 2023 as the Bundesliga's surprise contender. But 21 seconds into its first game of 2024, it became clear how hard it will be to stay in the Champions League places.

That's how long it took for Robin Hack to score the first of two goals for Borussia Moenchengladbach in a 3-1 win over Stuttgart on Sunday.

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Stuttgart was playing without its top scorer Serhou Guirassy, whose 17 goals in 14 games were key to the team sitting third in the table at the winter break. Guirassy is with the Guinea team at the African Cup of Nations.

Soon after kickoff, Rocco Reitz found space on the right flank and played in a smart through ball for Hack to score with a low shot as defender Pascal Stenzel failed to close him down.

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It was Hack's first league goal of the season in his 13th game. He only needed another 18 minutes to claim his second, beating the Stuttgart offside trap to score and finish a move which started when goalkeeper Alexander Nübel gave away the ball with a rushed clearance.

Full back Josha Vagnoman scored from the edge of the box in the 56th to give Stuttgart hope of a comeback, but Gladbach's American forward Jordan Pefok made sure of the win for Gladbach in stoppage time with a goal on a rebound after Manu Koné hit the post.

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Stuttgart stays third but has dropped 11 points behind leader Bayer Leverkusen, while Gladbach climbs two places to 10th.

Also Sunday, Werder Bremen salvaged a 1-1 draw at Bochum thanks to Niklas Stark's deflected goal in stoppage time.

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Bremen wanted a penalty in the 57th when a clumsy challenge from Bochum's Patrick Osterhage caught Justin Njinmah's foot, but a video review spotted Bremen had been offside beforehand. Osterhage made up for putting his team in jeopardy seven minutes later, hitting a sublime curling shot from distance into the top-right corner to give Bochum the lead.

Bremen stays 13th and Bochum 14th.

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Published January 15th, 2024 at 08:49 IST

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