VfB Stuttgart 2, Birmingham City 0
Birmingham City fell to a couple of late goals as they got their Austria tour off to a losing start.
Brazilian attacker Elson found the top corner of Joe Hart’s net with a superb goal in the 78th minute to edge the Bundesliga outfit ahead.
That was followed-up by Julian Schieber’s header with seven minutes left as Blues, suffering from weary legs and a raft of changes in the second period, succumbed.
This friendly was a tough ask for Blues, who started their pre-season preparations 11 days behind Stuttgart.
The Germans have had five friendlies tucked under their belt already and fielded their strongest side.
Yet it was Blues who almost drew first blood in the fifth minute when James McFadden mesmerised three players on the right with a piece of clever skill. He waited for Cameron Jerome to check his run before sliding him in for a run at goal. Jens Lehmann deflected Jerome’s low shot away with the heel of his boot.
Maik Taylor then parried away a long range attempt by Timo Gebhart before Blues threatened again.
It was Keith Fahey who tricked his way along the byline before drawing Lehmann and poking the ball back, but there was no Blues player that far advanced.
Blues, who had undergone a hard training session in the morning, began to go through the motions a little as proceedings dropped into a lull.
Blues made four substitutions at the break, bringing on Barry Ferguson and Hart for their first appearances and kept the same 4-5-1 formation.
Hart didn’t have to wait long to be tested, and he made a sharp stop down to his left after Elson took the ball off Stephen Carr’s toes and let one fly from the inside left channel.
Gary McSheffrey went close with a 20-yarder that just drifted wide of the post, but there was little else to trouble Lehmann in the second-half.
Stuttgart broke the deadlock with 12 minutes left via Elson’s fine finish from the ‘D’ on the edge of the penalty area.
He was not closed down and executed a couple of swift turns before arrowing his shot in. Blues then conceded a second goal in the 83rd minute when Julian Schieber was left free to head in Thomas Hitzlsperger’s corner.