Borussia Dortmund 3 Stuttgart 0: Stoger's men strengthen Champions League chances
Borussia Dortmund bounced back from Der Klassiker humiliation to strengthen their grip on a Champions League spot with a 3-0 home win over Stuttgart on Sunday.
Crushed 6-0 by Bayern Munich last time out, Peter Stoger's side needed a morale-boosting three points and got exactly that courtesy of goals from Christian Pulisic, Michy Batshuayi and Maximilian Philipp.
BVB gained an early measure of momentum as they welcomed back Marco Reus, who missed the implosion at Bayern with an adductor problem, for just his sixth Bundesliga start of the season.
And while the effects of last weekend were evident in a nervy opening, their concerns over becoming Stuttgart's fourth straight away victim were eased by a fortuitous Pulisic opener, the United States international seeing an intended cross drop over a red-faced Ron-Robert Zieler and in.
Batshuayi turned the lead into a comfortable cushion with his fourth goal in as many Bundesliga outings before Philipp poked in at the second attempt to complete the scoring in the 59th minute.
Those goals ensured Stuttgart boss Tayfun Korkut tasted defeat for the first time since his January appointment as BVB, now just one point shy of second-placed Schalke, look to leapfrog their fierce rivals when the two meet at Veltins Arena next Sunday.
Reus' first act was to make an important intervention in defence as Stuttgart, seeking to prey on the wounds opened by Dortmund's mauling at Bayern, began the contest with three consecutive corners.
Mario Gomez netted the only goal in the visitors' last away win in this fixture in February 2007 and the striker might have put his team ahead here, heading a free-kick wide under little pressure.
Christian Gentner next guided a threatening pass across the face of goal as Stoger's men struggled to find any sort of fluency over the opening 30 minutes.
Needing a moment of inspiration to spark them into life, Dortmund instead got an equally welcome slice of fortune as Pulisic's attempted cross from the right looped over a backpedalling Zieler and went in off the post.
Reus could have doubled the largely undeserved lead two minutes later, but volleyed wide from Nuri Sahin's inventive lob into the area.
That miss mattered little when, within three minutes of the restart, Batshuayi skilfully flicked Mahmoud Dahoud's pass into the path of the overlapping Sahin, who cut the ball back for the Chelsea loanee to side-foot into the bottom far corner.
And the suddenly assured home side were charging towards a possible rout just 11 minutes later, Philipp forcing in his first goal since November after Zieler kept out the initial attempt.
Pulisic was then denied a double when Zieler narrowed the angle in a one-on-one, before Philipp's selflessness cost BVB what should have been a fourth.
But Stoger remained confident enough to introduce 17-year-old Barcelona product Sergio Gomez off the bench for his Bundesliga debut, before namesake Mario crashed one final attempt for a Stuttgart consolation against the crossbar as Dortmund wrapped up a result that at least temporarily opens a six-point gap to fifth.