Nuremberg - Sebastian Polter struck an injury-time equaliser as 1. FC Nuremberg twice came from behind to register a 2-2 draw at home to Hannover 96 on Sunday afternoon.
Kiyotake to the fore
Striking either side of Timm Klose's equaliser, goals from Szabolcs Huszti and Didier Ya Konan looked to have set Hannover on the way to a rare away win, only for Nuremberg substitute Polter to level at the death.
Hannover coach Mirko Slomka rang the changes following Thursday night's disappointing UEFA Europa League defeat to Anji Makhachkala, but it was the home side, unchanged after last weekend's goalless draw in Frankfurt, who made the stronger start. A pair of Hiroshi Kiyotake corners twice got the better of Japanese compatriot Hiroki Sakai and Co. in Hannover's new-look back four, but Czech striker Tomas Pekhart was unable to apply the scoring touch from close range.
An even more presentable opportunity fell the way of Hannover striker Mohammed Abdellaoue in the 17th minute, but the Norwegian failed to make contact with Ya Konan's inviting ball across the six-yard box. Still, it was a chance that breathed life into an otherwise tepid encounter as Timmy Simons' slide-rule pass found Kiyotake who, timing his run to perfection, turned Johan Djourou inside-out and lashed wide with only Ron-Robert Zieler to beat.
Though not always easy on the eye, the first half did not pass without its share of action, including Hannover's first shot on target in the 31st minute. By this point the 96ers were finding their stride, but Abdellaoue was unable to get the better of the Bundesliga's eldest custodian, Raphel Schäfer. The Nuremberg shot-stopper could do nothing to prevent a lively Hannover taking the lead, though, as Hustzi waltzed into the box and lashed home shortly before the interval.
As an attacking unit, Nuremberg had offered very little since the opening ten minutes of the game, but were right back in it in the 53rd minute when Swiss international Klose glanced Kiyotake's beautifully-weighted free kick past Zieler and into the bottom corner for 1-1. Another Kiyotake set piece almost proved Hannover's undoing moments later, but in a near-carbon copy of the home side's leveller, Zieler got both hands to Pekhart's downward header.
With Hannover beginning to show the after-effects of their European exertions, Nuremberg coach Michael Wiesinger saw fit to throw Japanese international Mu Kanazaki into the fold, but it was a rare misplaced pass from the substitute's international team-mate Kiyotake that turned the tie back in Hannover's favour. Abdellaoue collected the loose pass and scampered into the area, before firing a superb ball across goal and onto the boot of Ya Konan, who tucked home from close range.
Hannover should have been home and hosed wth 18 minutes left to play, but Schäfer defied his years with a fine reaction save to deny the otherwise subdued Mame Diouf his tenth league goal of the season. It was a chance Slomka's men where left to rue as the never-say-die attitude of the Franconians saw substitute Polter convert Timothy Chandler's pin-point cross deep into added time to ensure a deserved share of the spoils.
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