Hanover - 1. FSV Mainz 05 missed a chance to move temporarily top of the table, dropping points for the first time in the current campaign as Hannover 96 came from behind to clinch a convincing 4-1 win at the HDI-Arena.

Nicolai Müller’s fifth goal of the season wasn’t enough to preserve the visitors’ unblemished record as first-half headers from Mame Biram Diouf and Artur Sobiech overturned the one-goal deficit, before Didier Ya Konan and Edgar Prib rounded off the scoring in the Reds' second straight win on home soil.

Hard-fought first half


With both sides pressing to great effect, time and space in midfield were at a premium during the opening exchanges. Mainz had set themselves up to absorb pressure before breaking on the counterattack, and they duly took the lead just before the quarter-hour mark when Zdenek Pospech cut out Marcelo’s misplaced pass to play in Müller, who confidently poked the ball past Ron-Robert Zieler.

With the deadlock broken the encounter opened up, yet it was the visitors who maintained their grip on proceedings as Shinji Okazaki stung the palms of Zieler with a fierce first-time volley. However, having been bereft of penetration during the opening half hour, Hannover’s wing-play then breathed life into their performance. Minutes after heading wide with his first sight of goal, Diouf got right side of Heinz Müller to head home Edgar Prib’s corner despite Johannes Geis’ best efforts to clear off the line.

Swings and roundabouts


The equaliser swung the momentum in Hannover’s favour and, with Thomas Tuchel’s side looking vulnerable, the hosts pressed their advantage shortly before half time. A burst of pace took Lars Stindl past five Mainz players, allowing the winger to pick out Sobiech, who made no mistake with his powerful header, sending the Reds in at the break a goal to the good.

Both head coaches altered their sides during the break, but there was little change to the flow of the game as Hannover kept themselves on the front foot with an early chance from Diouf hitting the side-netting from a tight angle. The Senegalese striker was involved again approaching the hour mark, but failed to connect cleanly with Sebastien Pocognoli’s drilled delivery.

Comeback completed


Having thrived in the early stages, Mainz were struggling to combine in the final third as the pace of proceedings began to dwindle, but they twice went close to leveling the scores. Nikolce Noveski flashed a header over the bar from a promising free-kick before Zimling followed suit when his effort was deflected behind for a corner.

However, after Tuchel threw on two extra strikers, Hannover ruthlessly punished their visitors on the counterattack. Ya Konan, fresh off the bench, extended the Reds’ lead with ten minutes remaining, curling a sumptuous strike into the far corner, before Prib capped off a strong performance with his first ever goal for Hannover, putting the final nail in Mainz’s coffin and completing a thrilling comeback by the hosts.

Line-ups and statistics

James Thorogood