TO THE VICTOR THE SPOILS
Late, late drama - but that's just the way it is in Bundesliga 2! Hannover looked to have secured a point after a much-improved second-half display, but the home crowd willed the ball over the line in stoppage time and Lautern have all three points!
WE HAVE A WINNER!
Hannover have been the better team in this second half but Lautern have surely won it now! They throw everyone forward for a stoppage-time corner and when the guests fail to clear it properly the ball comes to Kraus, who prods in from close range!
Speed check: The fastest player in the game after 90 minutes
BUNDESLIGA 2 DEBUT
17-year-old Italian striker Nicolo Tresoldi is on for the last few minutes, making his maiden senior appearance.
DEHM WITH THE WINNER ON HIS TOE!
Hannover are pushing for a winner and should probably have it. they work the ball well from left to right, with Dehm charging into the box. He has a free sight of goal from about 12 yards out but opts for power over precision and lashes his shot wide of the upright! He holds his head in anguish - that could have been the decider!
THE PERFECT SCRIPT!
It's been coming over the last few minutes and now Hannover have their equaliser! Lautern struggle to clear a ball from the left, with Tomiak miscuing his clearance, and it falls kindly at the feet of substitute Nielsen, who side-foots in from close range on his 29th birthday!
Finally some sustained pressure from Hannover as Kerk whips in a free-kick from the right onto the head of Beier. He glances it towards the back post but Luthe is well placed to make another good stop.
KERK ALMOST EQUALISES!
Hannover win a free-kick about 30 yards from goal, slightly left of centre. Kerk strikes it left-footed, bending the ball around the wall and towards the near post. It's going in, but Luthe dives to his right and sticks out a big paw to claw it away. That's the closest the away side have come to scoring today!
The visitors have only had two shots fewer than their hosts (eight to 10), but it's the quality of the chances that are telling. According to the xG Goals metric, it's no wonder Hannover haven't scored yet...
NO WAY THROUGH FOR HANNOVER
FRESH LEGS UP TOP
Boyd put in a decent shift today - crucially getting the assist for the only goal of the game. He's replaced by 23-year-old forward Lobinger.
TOO MUCH MUSCLE
Hannover boss Stefan Leitl switches things up as he looks to inject fresh impetus into his side up front. Birthday boy Nielsen comes on for Weydandt, while Teuchert replaces Besuschkow.
AMBITIOUS FROM KERK
The Hannover midfielder takes aim from 40 yards with a free-kick and although his effort is on target and well struck, it'll take something special to beat Luthe from there.
BEIER OFF TARGET
The Hannover forward is first to an inviting cross from the left, but his glancing header sails well wide.
NIEHUES FROM RANGE
A loose ball falls kindly for the Lautern midfielder around 25 yards from goal in a central position. He strikes it first time but his curling attempt is comfortably saved by Zieler.
GOOD OMEN FOR LAUTERN
Whenever the Red Devils took the lead at home last season, they invariably went on to win: 12 wins, one draw.
UNDER WAY AGAIN!
Hannover restart the action!
HOSTS DESERVEDLY AHEAD
The referee brings an end to the first half and Kaiserslautern hold a slender but well-merited lead. Wunderlich’s goal is the difference so far, and the veteran midfielder has had a couple of other presentable chances too. Hannover have shown precious little going forward, with Schaub’s shot just before the goal the best they have to show for their efforts.
BOYD IN FINE FETTLE
© IMAGO / Jan Huebner
Lovely work from the substitute in central midfield to rob Schaub of the ball. He spies the space in front of him and unleashes a low shot towards the corner but Zieler gets down well to his right to keep it out.
POSSESSION ISN'T EVERYTHING
Situation No penalty
Decision No penalty
CHANGE FOR LAUTERN TOO
Zolinski limps off with what looks to be a knee complaint. He's replaced in attacking midfield by Redondo.
PROMISING FOR HANNOVER
Köhn does well down the left, jinking past a defender before crossing into the middle. Weydandt is poised to nod the ball in at the back post but his marker just beats him to it!
Speed check: The fastest player in the game after 30 minutes
Ondoua is forced off with a knock after a hefty challenge. He's replaced in defensive midfield by Kunze.
FIRST IN 12 YEARS!
© Alex Grimm/Getty Images
BOYD HAS A GO
The American striker picks the ball up in a pocket of space after Hannover lose the ball in midfield. He drives forward and shoots low from about 25 yards out, but drags his effort wide of the target.
Lautern shouldn't have scored yet according to the xGoals metric, but as things stand, Wunderlich looks in the mood to add to his tally.
AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Wunderlich and Zolinski interchange passes just outside the Hannover area, left of centre. The move culminates in Zolinski nodding the ball down for Wunderlich, whose stinging left-footed volley flashes wide of the far post.
JUST WIDE FROM WUNDERLICH!
The midfielder goes within a whisker of finding the net for the second time with a curling effort from the edge of the box that sails just beyond the far post. It wouldn't have counted if it had gone in though, as the flag was raised for offside in the build-up.
The hosts go in front. There appears to be little danger on the cards as a long ball is played forward down the Lautern right. Börner is first to it and shields it well from Boyd, but it all goes wrong when the defender's attempted pass back to Zieler sells the goalkeeper short. Boyd nips in and squares the ball to Wunderlich, who is left with a simple tap-in!
FIRST SHOT OF THE GAME
Schaub twists and turns inside the Lautern box and curls a shot at goal, but it's straight at Luthe.
Still very early days of course, but Lautern centre-back Kevin Kraus has been the most assured player on the ball so far.
The hosts very nearly catch Hannover out as Zuck takes a free-kick on the right, about 40 yards out. Instead of floating a cross into the box as expected, he played a low pass into the box into the run of Zolinski. The attacker would have been clean through on goal if not for a well-timed interception by a defender.
TESTING THE WATERS
Both teams are still just getting a feel for the ball at this stage, with neither giving an inch or shirking a tackle in midfield.
AND WE'RE OFF!
Kaiserslautern get the ball rolling on the 2022/23 season!
Kaiserslautern's Fritz-Walter-Stadion is sold out at its almost 50,000 capacity and the atmosphere is bouncing as the home supporters celebrate their team's return to Bundesliga 2. It's almost go time!
Hannover striker Havard Nielsen turns 29 today. Will he crown the occasion with a goal off the bench?
KAISERSLAUTERN STARTING XI
Luthe - Durm, Kraus, Tomiak, Zuck - Niehues, Ritter - Zimmer (c), Wunderlich, Zolinski - Boyd
Spahic, Kiprit, Redondo, Hanslik, Schad, Bünning, Hercher, Lobinger, Basenach
HANNOVER STARTING XI
Zieler (c) - Dehm, Neumann, Börner, Köhn - Kerk, Onduoa, Schaub - Besuschkow - Beier, Weydandt
Weinkauf, Kunze, Nielsen, Muroya, Stolze, Tresoldi, Foti, Krajnc, Teuchert
These teams have only met twice before in Bundesliga 2, with Hannover winning both fixtures in the 2016/17 campaign: 1-0 at home and 4-0 away. Today's visitors also have the better record overall, with 22 wins (seven draws) from the 47 competitive games to date. Kaiserslautern have won 18 times, most recently in the Bundesliga in April 2006.
LAUTERN PLANNING BIG
The Red Devils made some shrewd moves over the summer following their promotion from the third tier. Their biggest coup was the signing of Erik Durm, a 2014 FIFA World Cup winner with Germany who helped Eintracht Frankfurt lift the UEFA Europa League title in May. The full-back returns to his boyhood club eager for more game time after a season on the fringes at the Eagles in 2021/22. Goalkeeper Andreas Luthe is another major boon, the veteran goalkeeper arriving from Union Berlin with plenty of top-flight experience.
WHAT OF HANNOVER?
Hannover finished 11th last season. Leitl has since come in as coach, replacing Christoph Dabrowski, after taking Greuther Fürth up to the Bundesliga in 2020/21 and straight back down again at the end of last term. The Reds have been in Bundesliga 2 since their relegation from the top flight in 2019.
WELCOME BACK TO BUNDESLIGA 2, KAISERSLAUTERN!
BUNDESLIGA 2 IS BACK!
After the most exciting promotion race in living history, Bundesliga 2 returns for the 2022/23 season. Promoted Kaiserslautern are the hosts for the curtain opener, with Hannover - under new head coach Stefan Leitl - the visitors to the Fritz-Walter-Stadion.