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Monday, Feb. 27, 2012

Okazaki scores for third straight game


STUTTGART, Germany — Japan striker Shinji Okazaki was on target for the third game in a row on Saturday as Stuttgart boosted its hopes of European qualification for next season with a resounding 4-1 win at home to Freiburg in the Bundesliga.

Stuttgart moved up one place in the table to the eighth spot on 29 points, seven behind Werder Bremen which is in the second Europa League qualifying spot in sixth place. Freiburg remains rooted to the foot of the table with just 18 points from 23 games.

Gotoku Sakai had a hand in the first goal as Stuttgart took a 12th-minute lead, the former Albirex Niigata man passing to Martin Harnik, who found space to beat Freiburg goalkeeper Oliver Baumann.

Harnik then crossed for Okazaki to slide home the second from close range on 21 minutes. Freiburg pulled one back through Fallou Diagne but Khalid Boulahrouz gave Stuttgart a 3-1 cushion and Harnik struck again to wrap up victory eight minutes from time.

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