Stuttgart beat Mainz in protest-interrupted clash


Stuttgart ease past Mainz at home

Stuttgart gets a 3-1 win against Mainz in the Bundesliga.

VfB Stuttgart eased to a 3-1 home win over Mainz 05 on Sunday, their third Bundesliga victory in a row.

Pascal Stenzel's crosses set up two quick goals as Maximilian Mittelstädt and Jamie Leweling scored in stoppage time of a first half that was temporarily held up due to some spectators throwing objects onto the pitch.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Deniz Undav, on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion, scored the third goal in the 73rd minute as he chased Anthony Rouault's long ball into the box and fired it past the goalkeeper. Ludovic Ajorque scored the lone goal for Mainz three minutes later.

Third-placed Stuttgart visit bottom of the standings Darmstadt on Saturday as they look to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2009-10. Mainz, who are 17th and winless in their last 11 matches, host Augsburg next.

Fans threw objects including tennis balls onto the pitch during Sunday's game, causing repeated stoppages, and a total of 13 minutes were added on to the first half.

Fans have been protesting for months against the league's plans to sell a stake of revenue to an outside investor. Most German clubs are majority-controlled by their fans and supporters fear the deal would dilute their influence and make executives less accountable.

Protests have escalated since clubs in the top two divisions voted in December to proceed with talks with two prospective buyers, both private equity investors.

"Are you kidding us? New open vote now," read one large Stuttgart banner Sunday, repeating a key demand from fans, that the process is re-run without a secret ballot so fans know how their clubs' executives vote.

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.