Stuttgart earn breathing space
Stuttgart claim tight away win at Freiburg
Last Updated: 22/01/10 10:10pm
Marica: Celebrates scoring
Stuttgart climbed five points clear of the Bundesliga relegation zone with a 1-0 win against SC Freiburg.
Ciprian Marica's goal earned them victory at the Badenova-Stadion, but Christian Gross' side were made to sweat as their hosts had a goal controversially disallowed in the second half.
An offside Heiko Butscher got the final touch to Papiss Cisse's goalbound shot, though the goal was only disallowed after protests from Stuttgart.
The visitors dominated the early stages and Simon Pouplin had to turn Pavel Pogrebnyak's drive from a free-kick over the bar before the Russian wasted a glorious chance.
Alexander Hleb's intelligent pull-back found Sami Khedira, his shot from the edge of the box was parried by Pouplin and, off-balance, Pogrebnyak blazed horribly over from 10 yards.
A swift Freiburg break ended with left-winger Felix Bastians cutting inside and curling wide from 18 yards before Daniel Caligiuri went close from the other flank.
But Marica gave Stuttgart a deserved lead five minutes before the interval after Hleb neatly picked out Pogrebnyak. The Russian was tackled by Daniel Williams, but the ball fell for Marica to slot home.
Freiburg's Omer Toprak made a superb goalline clearance from Roberto Hilbert's shot shortly after the interval before the home side were denied their equaliser.
Cisse's shot found the net but the goal was - eventually - chalked off due to the deflection off centre-back Butscher, surprisingly popping up in an offside position.
Freiburg again threatened as Williams' cross picked out Bastians, whose header was booted off the line by Georg Niedermeier.
Pouplin dived to deny Khedira and turned Marica's drive over after Timo Gebhart's brilliant flick.
Marica was harshly denied a late second when he was penalised for high feet in turning a Gebhart corner past Pouplin.
But Sven Ulreich then had to snatch a bouncing ball off the toes of Stefan Riesinger as the substitute lined up a game-changing first contribution.