New signing from Standard Liege, Felipe, put Hannover ahead against the run of play just before half-time
New signing from Standard Liege, Felipe, put Hannover ahead against the run of play just before half-time

Nikci nicks Hannover a point

Munich - Hannover 96 and Schalke 04 penned a topsy-turvy final chapter to a barnstorming opening weekend of Bundesliga action, with the two sides having to settle for a share of the spoils at the AWD Arena on Sunday.

Europa League hangover

Two goals in 12 second-half minutes from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Lewis Holtby cancelled out a surprise goal from Felipe Trevizan Martins to put Schalke in the driving seat, before substitute Adrian Nikci made it 2-2 with ten minutes left on the clock.

Showing three changes to the side that put FC Saarbrücken to the sword in the DFB Cup, Schalke started brightly against a group of Hannover players perhaps feeling the after-effects of their midweek exertions in Europa League qualifying. Restored to the Schalke eleven along with Joel Matip and Huntelaar, midfielder Jermaine Jones earned the game's first corner, which Kyriakos Papadopoulos met with a fierce low drive that an unsighted Ron-Robert Zieler did well to keep out in the seventh minute. The visitors dealt far more convincingly with Hannover's first foray into the final third, before Da Silva Pinto rifled handsomely over from a tight angle.

Hannover were clearly second best in the energy department, with Lars Stindl's rash swipe on Uchida and subsequent yellow card an indicator of the home side's inability to keep up with the pace. As if to illustrate a point, Schalke's Lewis Holtby burst into the box four minutes later, rounding Zieler and seeing his cross-shot hooked off the line by Felipe. Schalke's hounding of the opposition showed no signs of abating and Lewis Holtby picked off a loose pass inside the final third, with Zieler diving low to his right to keep out Ciprian Marica's 18-yard strike, and he was helpless as the forward glanced over moments later.

On the hunt

However, Hannover had the last laugh of a one-sided first half when, out of nothing, an unmarked Felipe stooped to head home Christian Pander's 43rd-minute free kick. The home side had their tails up and Leon Andreasen almost made it two on the stroke of half time - the midweek hero seeing his looping header drop narrowly wide of the upright after Jan Schlaudraff's slalom run into the box.

Hannover started the second half with a spring in their step, but a quick counter-attack proved their undoing as Felipe failed to close down the space in front of Huntelaar, who showed his man a couple of dummies before whipping a stunning effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the area in the 52nd minute.

Last laugh

Schalke were resurgent and Huntelaar teed up Holtby to drive at Zieler just shy of the hour mark with the Germany international making no mistake five minutes later, expertly guiding Jones' hanging cross beyond the keeper's reach to make it 2-1 as Hannover played out much of the half on the back foot.

Zieler was certainly one of the busier players on the field towards the end, but Hannover kept plugging away and got their reward as substitute Nikci supplied the finishing touch to another lung-busting run from Schlaudraff, earning Hannover a point in front of their own fans.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge

Hannover 96: Zieler - Cherundolo, Eggimann, Felipe (Nikci 77'), Pander - Andreasen, da Silva Pinto (Huszti 69') - Stindl, Schmiedebach - Schlaudraff, Ya Konan (Sobiech 65')

FC Schalke 04: Hildebrand - Uchida, Matip, K. Papadopoulos, Fuchs - Neustädter - J. Jones, Draxler (Barnetta 80'), Holtby - Huntelaar, Marica

Goals: Felipe Trevizan Martins (43'), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (52'), Lewis Holtby (64'), Adrian Nikci (80')