Mario Gomez, left, scored in the first half to secure victory for Stuttgart against Augsburg. Photo: Ronald Wittek/EPA

BERLIN – Mario Gomez fired Stuttgart to a 1-0 victory over southern rivals Augsburg on Sunday, lifting the struggling side four points clear of the bottom three.

Gomez’s first-half strike was enough to secure a first away win of the season for Stuttgart, and inflict a first home defeat on neighbours Augsburg since October.

The veteran German international, who at 32 has returned to his boyhood club, gave Stuttgart the lead just before the half-hour mark. 

After Erik Thommy’s free kick was blocked by the defensive wall, Gomez pounced on the loose ball and swept it into the bottom corner.

Michael Gregoritsch appeared to equalise for Augsburg 10 minutes later, but he was correctly ruled offside after a two-minute long consultation with the video assistant referee.

Only a superb save from Marwin Hitz stopped Stuttgart from doubling the lead on 65 minutes, the Augsburg goalkeeper denying Gomez from point blank range.

While both Gomez and Daniel Ginczek squandered further chances for Stuttgart, the home side found the net in stoppage time, only for Koo Ja-Cheol to be ruled offside.

Augsburg, already furious with the confusion over VAR in the first half, then saw a penalty appeal turned down in the dying seconds of the game as Stuttgart held on to secure the win.