Stuttgart and Wolfsburg off to flying starts

BERLIN - VfB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg, both Bundesliga strugglers last season, got off to flying starts on Saturday with 3-0 wins in their opening matches of the new campaign.

Stuttgart, who spent most of last season fighting relegation and employed three coaches, beat last season's German Cup winners and Champions League semi-finalists Schalke 04 to celebrate the opening of their rebuilt stadium.

Wolfsburg overcame the absence of playmaker Diego to win at Cologne, who look to be in for another arduous season and were jeered off by the 47,000 crowd.

Brazilian Diego has been told by coach Felix Magath that he has no future at the 2008/09 champions after walking out when he was dropped on the final day of last season when the club escaped the drop.

Promoted Augsburg, playing in the top flight for the first time, twice came from behind to hold Freiburg 2-2 and Werder Bremen, hoping for a vast improvement on last season's uninspiring 13th place, beat Kaiserslautern 2-0.

Champions Borussia Dortmund kicked off the campaign on Friday with an emphatic 3-1 win over Hamburg SV.

Stuttgart, who have avoided the temptation to splurge in the transfer market, took the lead when Brazilian-born forward Cacau diverted Francisco Rodriguez's header into the net eight minutes before half-time.

Schalke had plenty of openings but the hosts struck again with another header from Austria striker Martin Harnik just before the hour.


Japanese substitute Shinji Okazaki completed the scoring with a superb 89th minute effort when he cut in from the right, left his marker standing and scored from the edge of the area.

"That was a special day for Stuttgart, a newly opened stadium and a win against such strong opponents," said coach Bruno Labbadia, who took over halfway through last season and led the underachieving side to safety.

Patrick Helmes scored twice and Marcel Schaefer helped himself to the other goal in Wolfsburg's win at Cologne as the visitors repeatedly caught their defensively sloppy hosts on the counter-attack.

Swedish striker Markus Rosenberg scored both goals for Bremen as they won their opening Bundesliga game for the first time in five seasons.

Sascha Moelders scored both goals for Augsburg as they fought back to hold Freiburg, who went ahead first through Senegal striker Papiss Demba Cisse and then Democratic Republic of Congo forward Cedrick Makiadi.

Hanover 96, a surprising fourth last season, began with a 2-1 win at home to Hoffenheim.