NO NEED FOR EXTRA TIME
Two players with braces, three goals in each half: The fans in the Mercedes Benz Arena certainly got their money's worth today. Hannover tried hard in the second half, but Stuttgart were unstoppable today and have opened up a 5-point gap over the 96ers in their bid to avoid relegation.
JONATHAS STILL MOTIVATED - AND ONCE AGAIN OFFSIDE
The game is most probably beyond his side, but Jonathas is still getting into dangerous positions and trying to salvage pride, if not points.
ZUBER GRABS ANOTHER
Hannover lose the ball in from of their defensive area and substitute Genter directs the ball into the path of Zuber, who slots the ball low under the keeper for his second in three minutes.
THREE-GOAL LEAD RESTORED!
Steven Zuber once again gives the home side a three-goal cushion. Stuttgart won a corner after Esswein's shot was deflected wide and when the ball fell to Zuber, his shot also took a deflection, only this time it looped high, leaving Michael Esser helpless to prevent it crossing the line.
Stuttgart coach Markus Weinzerl looks like he wants to shore up his team's defense as he removes Mario Gomez in favour of midfielder Christian Genter.
THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM FOR JONATHAS!
Just seconds after nearly scoring with his head, the Brazilian finally gets Hannover on the scoresheet. They have been much better this half and Jonathas has them within two goals by putting away a cross with his head. Is there a comeback on here after all?
JONATHAS WITH A HEADER - OFFSIDE
Hannover's half-time substitute is itching for a goal and flashes a header across the face of goal, only to once again see the flag go up.
SECOND HALF IMPROVEMENT
Hannover are looking better in this second half and have been able to create some chances for themselves. They'll need to start converting them if they hope to get something from this match.
JONATHAS NEARLY WITH A CHANCE
Hannover enjoy a spell of possession and work the ball through the middle to threaten Zieler's goal. The final ball over the top to Brazilian striker Jonathas is a decent one, but the flag is up for offside.
FIRST ATTEMPT ON GOAL
The ball comes out to Genki Haraguchi, who takes a shot from long range, which goes high and wide. That's something of an improvement from Hannover.
THERE IT IS - 3-0!
Stuttgart have their third and it's Kabak who comes up with a header from a cross by Gonzalo Castro.
SECOND HALF ABOUT TO START
The teams are back on the field for the restart. Can Hannover find a way back into this one? Will Stuttgart score more?
NEARLY A SECOND FOR GOMEZ
That third goal feels just around the corner and Mario Gomez is once again nearly the man to bring it. He rises above everyone inside the area and gets his head to the cross in trademark fashion but is once again denied by Esser.
GOOD PLAY FROM ALBORNOZ
Chile wing-back Miiko Albornoz does well to avoid challenges as he works the ball into the Stuttgart area from the left. He puts in a cross, but is unable to find a teammate waiting in the centre to apply the finishing touch.
This is the first match this season in which Stuttgart have scored more than once in the first half.
CHANCE FOR ZUBER
A pass through the centre nearly gives Zuber the chance to put the game out of the visitors' reach, however, the ball is just too heavy and he watches it run beyond him.
THE RIGHT WAY
Hannover have so far only been able to find a way into the attacking third down the right-hand side of the pitch. They still have yet to seriously threaten the Stuttgart goal.
Stuttgart nearly make it three after a mistake from the Hannover defence gives Gomez the chance to grab a second. Esser is quick to react, however, and keeps the score 2-0.
SIGNS OF LIFE
Hannover are able to win the ball back in midfield and put together some passes to work it down the right. A cutback rolls harmlessly across the face fo the Stuttgart goal, without finding someone to finish, however.
SECOND CORNER - SECOND GOAL!
Once again for Stuttgart it's a case of "if at first you don't succeed." The ball is whipped into the box and Kabak does get his head to it to double the hosts's lead.
Stuttgart take the game's first corner, looking to get the ball to a head in the box. Hannover are able to clear and resume trying to gain a foothold in the match.
HOME SIDE IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT
Stuttgart look up for this one and have set up camp inside the Hannover half.
GOMEZ GETS HIS GOAL!
The Stuttgart striker needs only two chances to get his name on the scoresheet. The veteran collected a pass inside the area and places his shot beautifully into the corner.
HERE WE GO!
The home side get the match underway and nearly take a very early lead through Mario Gomez!
NOT LONG NOW
Just a couple minutes to go until kick-off. Both teams are in the tunnel about to take to the field.
HANNOVER TEAM NEWS
USA striker Bobby Wood is in the Hannover starting XI for the first time since matchday 18. In the reverse fixture, a 3-1 victory for Hannover, Wood scored the only brace of his Bundesliga career. Thomas Doll will be hoping for more of the same from the American.
STUTTGART TEAM NEWS
For the first time this season, Stuttgart are fielding the same starting XI three matches in a row. Coach Markus Weinzerl is a fan of consistency and his previous success with FC Augsburg was often built on the foundation of a stable starting team with few changes.
STUTTGART STARTING XI: Zieler – Beck, Kabak, Pavard, Kempf, Insua – Esswein, Ascacibar, Castro, Zuber – Gomez (c)
SUBS: Grahl, Aogo, Donis, Thommy, Akolo, Gentner, Badstuber OUT: Baumgartl (concussion), Didavi (cold), Gonzalez (suspended), Sosa (adductor) COACH: Markus Weinzierl
HANNOVER STARTING XI: Esser – Sorg, Anton (c), Felipe, Wimmer, Albornoz – Haraguchi, Schwegler, Asano - Wood, Weydandt
SUBS: Sahin-Radlinger, Korb, Bakalorz, Walace, Jonathas, Müller, Muslija OUT: Akpoguma (shoulder), Bebou (thigh), Füllkrug (knee), Hübers (knee), Maina (knee), Ostrzolek (ribs), Prib (knee), Sarenren Bazee (shin) COACH: Thomas Doll
GOMEZ LOOKING TO BREAK SCORING DUCK
Stuttgart's Mario Gomez will be looking to end a run of six matches without a goal this afternoon against Hannover.
Weinzierl knocked the nail on the head with this remark at his pre-match press conference: "It's a game that both teams have got to win."
NOW OR NEVER FOR HANNOVER
Hannover coach Thomas Doll's record is only marginally better, with a return of 0.75 points on average from his four games in charge. However, three of those have ended in 3-0 defeats, with a 2-0 win over Nuremberg his only win thus far – and that victory over a relegation rival gives him encouragement. "It's a decisive week," Doll said. "And it's now up to us to show that we want to stay in this division. We showed against Nuremberg how we can stand up to the pressure."
WEINZIERL FOCUSSED ON TASK AT HAND
"I'm not important," said Stuttgart coach Markus Weinierl, insisting his own future is the least of his concerns as he tries to lift the Swabians to safety. In 16 games at the helm, he has a return of just 0.68 points per game and that is an average which he simply must improve today. There have been encouraging signs in their recent performances, even if the results are not yet reflecting this. There would be no better a time to put that straight.
Welcome to today's blog as two relegation-threatened clubs meet in one of those proverbial six-pointers! Stuttgart can put five points between themselves and the relegation zone with a win, or they will be overtaken by Hannover if they lose at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Welcome along to the match centre for the game Stuttgart vs. Hannover from matchday 24 of the 2018/19 Bundesliga season at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Check back here for full information on the match.