Stuttgart may be stuttering domestically but they booked their place in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase with two matches to spare by extending their 100 per cent record in Group H to four games with a victory in Getafe.
Jens Keller's men have lost seven out of 10 games in the Bundesliga to occupy a place in the bottom three, but they again saved their best form for continental competition by seeing off their Spanish opponents at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez with a first-half goal from Ciprian Marica and second-half strikes from Timo Gebhart and Martin Harnik. Getafe have now lost three of their four matches and are three points behind Swiss side Young Boys in second.
Stuttgart created the first opening in the 17th minute as veteran Italy midfielder Mauro Camoranesi dragged a shot wide of Getafe goalkeeper Oscar Ustari's left-hand post. The Argentinian keeper was called on to keep out a close-range effort from Marica after 20 minutes but the Romanian put the Bundesliga side ahead five minutes later with a low left-foot shot from 20 yards.
Getafe had won their only previous home group game and Javier Arizmendi threatened an equaliser with a 20-yard left-foot strike which sailed over the crossbar.
Stuttgart came within inches of a second as Austrian forward Harnik struck the post in the 37th minute with a right-foot shot from 12 yards before Adrian Colunga headed a chance wide for the hosts. Ustari blocked a close-range attempt by Harnik but Getafe were still in the contest and Juan Albin had a free-kick charged down by the Stuttgart wall as half-time approached.
Arizmendi headed a presentable chance wide for Michel's men early in the second period after Marica had cleared Colunga's initial corner. The three points looked secure for Stuttgart when, in the 64th minute, Marica turned provider to set up Gebhart to fire home from the edge of the area. Mane responded with a long-range shot wide for Getafe before Camoranesi was forced off by an injury to be replaced by Christian Gentner.
Harnik added Stuttgart's third with a quarter of an hour left when he volleyed home Arthur Boka's cross from the left. Mane fired wide in the 83rd minute with a hopeful long-range strike but there was to be no consolation for the home side, who face an uphill struggle to get out of this group.