Frankfurt, which is enjoying its best league campaign, took advantage of Borussia Moenchengladbach's 3-1 defeat at Fortuna Duesseldorf on Saturday, to take the last qualification place for Europe's top club competition with seven rounds remaining.
It was Frankfurt's fifth successive win in the league and it stretched its unbeaten run to 14 games across all competitions. Adi Huetter's team has also reached the quarterfinals of the Europa League, where it faces Benfica, in the Austrian coach's debut season in charge.
Huetter arguably laid the groundwork for the outstanding season in Stuttgart on Nov. 2, when he opted to start forwards Jovic, Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic together for the first time. They have emerged among the league's best with 16, 14 and eight goals, respectively.
But it was Filip Kostic who got Frankfurt off the mark in the home game against Stuttgart, reacting quickly to convert the rebound from a difficult angle after Jovic's initial effort was deflected before the break.
"It's all the same to me who gets the goals," Huetter said. Rebic sent Kostic through for his second on a counterattack in the 64th, before Jovic sealed it in the 84th with his 16th goal of the season.
Stuttgart remained in the relegation playoff place. SCHALKE RELIEF Suat Serdar's first-half strike was enough for Schalke to ease its relegation worries with a 1-0 win at fellow struggler Hannover. Schalke captain Benjamin Stambouli set up Serdar to score in the 39th. It came against the run of play as the visitors had done very little in attack and had been dominated in terms of possession and goal chances.
But Schalke's first win since interim coach Huub Stevens returned for his third stint lifts the side six points clear of the relegation zone with seven rounds remaining. The team had previously gone eight games without a win in all competitions.
Hannover dropped to last following Nuremberg's first win in 21 games the day before. Thomas Doll's team has now endured seven defeats from eight games. On Saturday, Paco Alcacer scored twice in injury time for Borussia Dortmund to reclaim the league lead with a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg while Bayern Munich was held in Freiburg to 1-1. Dortmund next plays Bayern in Munich.
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