Five-star Stuttgart trounces Berlin

Michael Skibbe’s nightmare return to Germany continued as Hertha Berlin were thrashed 5-0 at Stuttgart to fall to the brink of the bottom three.

Skibbe has lost all five games since taking over as coach this winter from Markus Babbel and this fourth straight Bundesliga reverse will raise serious doubts about his future.

There should be no doubts about the future of Bruno Labbadia as Stuttgart coach, meanwhile, as goals from Vedad Ibisevic, Martin Harnik and Shinji Okazaki in the space of just eight first-half minutes put the home team on course for victory.

To make matters worse for Berlin, they lost Andreas Ottl to a red card before Harnik added a fourth before the interval and Levan Kobiashvili’s own goal sealed the comprehensive victory for Stuttgart.

Ibisevic opened his account for Stuttgart in the 24th minute when he reached the ball on the stretch with his right foot just ahead of Thomas Kraft to meet Tamas Hajnal’s free-kick, which had been headed on by Georg Niedermeier.

Harnik made it two four minutes later with Ibisevic this time the provider with a pass into the path of the Austrian striker, who made no mistake.

Ottl let his frustration get the better of him two minutes later with a dangerous foul from behind on Hajnal earning him a straight red card.

He had just left the field of play when Okazaki piled the misery on Berlin with Stuttgart’s third in the 32nd minute.

He headed in Khalid Boulahrouz’s cross as the Berlin defence was caught napping.

Harnik then compounded matters with an excellent volley past Kraft in the 41st minute, giving the home side a considerable, and deserved, half-time advantage.

Kobiashvili’s own goal in the 58th minute was symptomatic of Berlin’s day as he helped Christian Gentner’s cross in under pressure from Harnik, looming to complete his hat-trick just behind him.

Okazaki and Ibisevic missed chances to give Stuttgart an even bigger margin of victory with Kraft denying the Bosnian once again late on.