Ibisevic hat-trick lifts Stuttgart
Last Updated: 08/12/12 7:41pm
Vedad Ibisevic leads the Stuttgart celebrations
Vedad Ibisevic's hat-trick lifted Stuttgart to fifth in the Bundesliga table - their highest position of the season - and level on points with opponents Schalke following a 3-1 win at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
The Bosnian struck twice in the first half and again in the second period to earn Bruno Labbadia's side three points, with former Stuttgart striker Ciprian Marica on target for the visitors.
Both teams ended the game with 10 men. Stuttgart full-back Gotoku Sakai was first to depart in the 67th minute and he was followed six minutes later by Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones.
Labbadia had complained about the fact his side were back in action less than 48 hours after playing Molde in the Europa League, but there were no signs of any ill-effects as Ibisevic put them in front after just two minutes.
The hosts made the most of a four-against-two situation with the Royal Blues defence outnumbered. Ibrahima Traore's cross picked out the Bosnian, who guided the ball past Timo Hildebrand, who was facing his former side for the first time.
Traore went for the direct route in the 11th minute, but Hildebrand got behind the ball this time to make the save.
And he sent the visitors forward for the equaliser. Jones' cross was met by another former Stuttgart player, Marica, who did not hesitate in beating Sven Ulreich in the 12th minute.
Martin Harnik was then put through with a pass from deep, but Hildebrand had read the danger and raced off his line to clear before the Austrian could reach the ball.
Stuttgart forged ahead again eight minutes before the break. A penalty was awarded when Christian Fuchs fouled Christian Gentner, and Ibisevic sent in a powerful shot into the top-right corner.
The home team were not satisfied, though, and emerged for the second half with renewed enthusiasm.
They were rewarded in the 61st minute when Raphael Holzhauser was sent through on goal by Gentner and, although his effort was saved by Hildebrand, the ball fell to Ibisevic, who completed his hat-trick.
Stuttgart were reduced to 10 men soon afterwards when Sakai went in hard on Lewis Holtby on the sideline and was given his marching orders.
Jones soon followed him down the tunnel for a tackle from behind on Traore which the referee adjudged to have been dangerous enough to brandish a red card.
That ended Schalke's hopes of getting back into the game as Stuttgart posted the win to move up to fifth in the table - level on points with Schalke, but behind them on goal difference.