GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - Shinji Okazaki opened his account with a crucial second-half goal as Stuttgart confirmed Bundesliga survival with a 2-1 win at home to Hannover on Saturday.
Tamas Hajnal picked up a loose ball to fire in the opener and Cacau stormed through the Hannover defense just after the hour mark to set up Okazaki to score from outside the box for his first goal since his January move from Shimizu S-Pulse.
Lars Stindl replied for Hannover five minutes later but Stuttgart held on for all three points.
“I didn’t think I would score this season so I am relieved,” said Okazaki, whose goal came in his 11th league appearance.
“I hadn’t scored too many from that distance so I am really pleased. I want to play in every game next season and aim for double digits in goals.”