Hanover - Hannover 96 put their recent poor performances on the road behind them as they strengthened their position in the UEFA Europa League with a last-gasp 2-1 win against Swedish strugglers Helsingborgs IF.

Mirko Slomka's charges kept things tight at the back, but after Alvaro cancelled out Mame Biram Diouf's opener in the 91st minute, there was still time for Didier Ya Konan to net the winner as Hannover stay a point clear of closest rivals Levante at the top of Group L.

Out of the blocks


The travelling fans almost saw their side go ahead within a minute, but Mohamed Abdellaoue couldn't find the target from Konstantin Rausch's cross. Any hope of Helsingborgs rolling over was soon dispelled as Alejandro Bedoya broke in behind only to flash his effort wide, before forcing Ron-Robert Zieler to hare off his line moments later.

Hannover heeded the warning and tightened their grip on proceedings by going in front. Szabolcs Huszti, as he's done so often this season, provided the assist for Diouf, who climbed above his man to get on the end of the Hungarian's corner and break the deadlock.

Foot off the pedal


The opening goal settled the game, with the Reds controlling the pace and the chances. Didier Ya Konan broke the offside trap before wasting the guilt-edged opportunity with a tame header, while Huszti bent his attempt inches past the post with Helsingborgs' backline caught short. The Swedes would have leveled the scores if it weren't for Zieler’s goal line heroics denying Nikola Djurdic an equaliser, but in the end the hosts held onto their narrow advantage at the break.

Slomka's side should have doubled their lead soon after the restart, but having punished Diouf for lingering on the ball too long, Hansson produced a fine save to stop Huszti pouncing on the rebound. With the hail hammering down at times the hosts were struggling to cause Hannover prolems and, though Stindl skimmed an effort off the face of the crossbar, the travelling side had noticeably taken the sting out of the game.

Conditions worsen


Helsingborgs were playing like a side who knew their Europa League lives were on the line. David Acaam teed-up Djurdic, but having scuffed his shot, Zieler was able to gather, while centimetres separated second-half substitute Alvaro equalising with a header. However, the striker did just that by beating Zieler to a lofted pass and heading in after his initial effort came back off the post, but it wasn't enough as Ya Konan grabbed a late winner with a true poacher's finish.

Line-ups:

Helsingborg: Hansson - Andersson, Atta, Larsson, Uronen - Lindström (Acaam 46'), Mahlangu, Gashi, Bouaouzan (Alvaro 66') - Bedoya, Djurdic

Hannover: Zieler - Cherundolo, Eggimann, Schulz, Rausch - Ya Konan, Stindl, da Silva Pinto, Huszti (Pander 88') - Diouf (Schmiedeback 76'), Abdellaoue (Sobiech 46')

Goals: 0-1 Diouf (12'), 1-1 Alvaro (90+1'), 1-2 Ya Konan (90+3')

James Thorogood