Fürth - Greuther Fürth's hopes of a miraculous last-gasp escape from the clutches of relegation were all but ended by Hannover 96 on Friday, who earned a rare away victory with a 3-2 triumph.
Hannover twice took the lead against the run of play, but strikes from Mohammed Abdellaoue and Andre Hoffmann were cancelled out by Nikola Djurdjic each time, before a late Sergio da Silva Pinto winner handed the visitors a somewhat flattering win.
Clearly enjoying the wave of confidence last week's derby victory over 1. FC Nuremberg had brought, Fürth began brightly. The hosts' neat midfield passing and determined tackling belied their place at the bottom of the standings, 12 points adrift of safety prior to kick-off. Youngsters Johannes Geis - Fürth's matchwinner last time out - and South Korean Jung Bin Park were liveliest early on, but neither was able to fashion a clear sight of goal.
Despite still having an outside chance of qualifying for Europe, Hannover were surprisingly poor. Their dismal away form this term, which had yielded 11 defeats from 15 games, appeared to weigh heavily on their shoulders and unforced mistakes were rife in their play. Fürth have the league's most generous backline on home soil but, half an hour in, the visitors had failed to force Fürth keeper Wolfgang Hesl into action.
Out of the blue
That soon changed, as Hannover took the lead against the run of play. Didier Ya Konan wriggled free on the right and his ball across the face of goal set up Abdellaoue for his eighth goal of the season, a simple tap-in. Undismayed, the Clover Leaves stuck to their game plan and were soon on level terms again. Djurdjic's quick feet allowed him to sidestep Karim Haggui on the edge of the box before slotting coolly past Ron-Robert Zieler.
The Hannover custodian kept his side in the game after the restart, however, as Fürth sensed a first home win of the season was on the cards. Zieler first took the sting out of a rasping long-range drive from Bernd Nehrig, before racing off his line and deflecting Djurcjic's attempted lob after the forward had run clean through on goal.
Fürth were firmly on top and very nearly took a deserved lead when Geis' devilish free-kick from 30 yards beat Zieler but rocketed back of the crossbar. With the second period continuing to mirror the flow of the first, it was perhaps only inevitable that Hannover should go in front again. Hoffmann leapt highest from a corner to head home his side's 18th goal from a set piece this season, incidentally more than any other Bundesliga side.
Djurdjic appeared to have earned the hosts a merited point when he restored parity moments later, but da Silva Pinto ensured it was the visitors who took the spoils when he side-footed in after Fürth failed to clear a routine cross. The hosts now face a nervy wait, as a draw for FC Augsburg at home to VfB Stuttgart on Saturday would condemn the Clover Leaves to Bundesliga 2.
Line-ups and statistics