Stuttgart routs Hannover 5-1 in Bundesliga relegation fight

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              Stuttgarts Ozan Kabak, left, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between VfB Stuttgart and Hannover 96 in Stuttgart, Germany, Sunday, March 3, 2019. (Sebastian Gollnow/dpa via AP)
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BERLIN (AP) — Two Bundesliga teams offered contrasting examples on Sunday over the value of switching — or keeping — coaches in a midseason relegation fight.

Stuttgart, which stuck with Markus Weinzierl despite picking up two points in eight games, routed Hannover 5-1.

“We were longing for a break. You can tell that a weight has fallen off us,” Stuttgart sporting director Thomas Hitzlsperger said.

Hannover had hoped for a change of fortune under new coach Thomas Doll, but has now slumped to four defeats in five games since he returned to the Bundesliga after stints abroad.

Hannover opted for the coaching change, firing Doll’s predecessor Andre Breitenreiter on Jan. 27 after eight league games without a win.

It wasn’t given a chance in Stuttgart. Former Germany striker Mario Gomez struck the post inside the first minute but duly opened the scoring three minutes later with a crisp shot from outside the area.

Ozan Kabak headed in a corner from Gonzalo Castro 12 minutes later, and scored again before the break after another Castro corner.

It could have been worse for second-from-bottom Hannover with Michael Esser making a number of good saves to deny the home side.

Brazilian striker Jonathas pulled one back for Hannover in the 68th with his first Bundesliga goal since his return in January, but Steven Zuber killed off hopes of a comeback with two late goals.

“Such a display does not belong in the Bundesliga,” said Hannover’s Marvin Bakalorz, whose side is seven points from safety with 10 games remaining.

Traveling Hannover fans displayed banners criticizing club president Martin Kind.

Stuttgart remained in the relegation playoff place, two points behind Augsburg.

WOLFSBURG DENIED

Werder Bremen came back to snatch a 1-1 draw at seventh-place Wolfsburg in the late game.

American defender John Brooks gave Wolfsburg a deserved lead for dominating the first half when he scored early in the second after 10th-place Bremen’s offside trap failed to work, but Max Kruse equalized with 16 minutes remaining.

On Friday, leader Borussia Dortmund slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Augsburg, allowing defending champion Bayern Munich to move level on points with a 5-1 rout of Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.