Yet more misery was heaped on Bruno Labbadia's Stuttgart side as their leaky defence ensured a 4-2 win for Bayer Leverkusen.
Stefan Kiessling gave Leverkusen an early lead in just the sixth minute. Excellent work from Sidney Sam down the right-hand side led to the winger crossing low into the box. Gonzalo Castro made a mess of his attempt but Kiessling pounced to fire home from six yards and a tightish angle past a helpless Sven Ulreich for his 66th goal in the top flight.
Stuttgart battled back with the equaliser on 16 minutes courtesy of one of their most in-form players. Austrian striker Martin Harnik was played in thanks to an excellent through ball from Tamas Hajnal and the man who struck against Benfica fired past Rene Adler, finding the bottom left-hand corner of the net in the proces.
Die Werkself regained the lead four minutes before the interval. Leverkusen skipper Simon Rolfes released Michal Kadlec down the left-hand side. The Slovakian full-back's low cross was fired towards goal by Gonzalo Castro. Ulreich parried the first effort away but the full-back, now operating as a winger, was not to be denied as he nodded home the rebound.
On the day that Fiorentina drew a blank in Serie A, one of their former players showed just what a brilliant right foot he possesses. Zdravko Kuzmanovic equalised for die Roten with a magnificent strike from 30 yards into the top right-hand corner. Rene Adler got both hands to the ball but was unable to keep out the Serb's powerful shot, which moved appreciably in the air.
However, Leverkusen took the lead once more with nine minutes remaining and this time they kept it. Gonzalo Castro lifted his right-wing corner into the danger area and Stefan Reinartz rose highest above the Stuttgart defence to powerfully head home from the penalty spot. It was the centre-back's second goal of a season, in which he has established himself as a key member of the Leverkusen backline.
Borussia Dortmund's nearest challengers made sure of the three points as the game entered stoppage time. Sidney Sam's determination ensured he shrugged off Cristian Molinaro and he had the presence of mind to lay the ball off to Kiessling, who slid the ball under Ulreich to put the icing on the cake and score his fourth goal of the season.
Stuttgart are second bottom of the table on nineteen points and could find themselves bottom should Borussia Moenchengladbach defeat Schalke later. Next week they take on an out-of-form Eintrach Frankfurt side whilst second-placed Leverkusen host another underperforming outfit in Werder Bremen.
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