Hannover's Mame Diouf struggled as the Reds were held by local rivals Braunschweig
Hannover's Mame Diouf struggled as the Reds were held by local rivals Braunschweig

Stalemate in Lower Saxony Derby

Hanover - Hannover 96 and Eintracht Braunschweig played out the Bundesliga’s 1,000th 0-0 draw in the top flight’s first Lower Saxony derby in 37 years.

Positive Reds‘ start

Hannover dominated for long spells but were guilty of some poor decision-making in the final third, with the returning Mame Diouf particularly profligate. Braunschweig offered little threat in attack but their defensive display will have delighted coach Torsten Lieberknecht, whose side now move off the bottom of the table, albeit potentially temporarily.

The 96ers welcomed back striker Diouf from suspension and his presence seemed to inspire the hosts as they began the game on the front foot. Edgar Prib and Lars Stindl both had early sighters at goal, before Braunschweig’s Daniel Davari was forced into the evening’s first save, tipping over a powerful header from Andre Hoffman. Diouf followed the effort up by connecting well with a Leonardo Bittencourt cross, but his header was straight at the keeper.

A groin strain had deprived Braunschweig of the services of Karim Bellarabi and his absence was keenly felt when the Lions looked to counter. Striker Domi Kumbela was starved of service in the opening half-hour, with Mirko Boland having their best effort with a rasping drive from distance. At the other end, Diouf continued to make a nuisance of himself, glancing another header wide and then firing over the top on the run.

Scrappy encounter

Hannover had been in control of proceedings but in the face of good pressing from their opponents, they began resorting to long balls in an attempt to find Diouf and supporting striker Prib, which played straight into the visitors’ hands. Just before the break, Davari deflected a Bittencourt drive clear, his first real save since denying Hoffman, before he was then fortunate to see Prib’s sliding effort go wide after he had been caught in possession on the edge of his box.

Diouf’s rustiness, and that of his team was made plain by the statistic that their 12 shots in the opening half was the most they had mustered in 45 minute of football since May 2012. Unfortunately for the hosts, their wastefulness continued after the restart, with Leon Andreasen heading over and Diouf then firing tamely at Davari after a one-two with Prib.

Lack of quality

Still Hannover pushed for an opener, but the longer the game went on, the more Braunschweig’s resolve seemed to harden, with Diouf becoming increasingly frustrated. His touch from Szabolcs Huszti’s pass allowed a defender to come across and cover, before he then missed another header from close range. Substitute Jan Schlaudraff gave the hosts some added quality in the closing stages, with one near-post cross forcing Deniz Dogan into a saving header, yet the visitors’ back four looked largely comfortable.

Both sides threw caution to the wind with time winding down, but as had been the case all evening, the defences were on top and the keepers hardly called into action, as the visitors held out for a deserved share of the spoils.

Bernie Reeves

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