Hanover - Hannover 96 and VfB Stuttgart remain on course for Bundesliga survival after playing out a 0-0 draw at the HDI Arena on Friday evening.
Cacau had a goal disallowed for Stuttgart after 16 minutes, and the 33-year-old former Germany striker spurned a glorious opportunity to give the Swabians all three points when he fired wide from close range after the break against a Hannover side offering little in attack.
Successive victories over Hamburger SV and Eintracht Frankfurt had given Tayfun Korkut’s 96ers an eight-point cushion over the relegation play-off place going into the final three games of the season, but it was Stuttgart who started the brighter of the two teams in Lower Saxony, with Daniel Didavi going close early on after playing a neat one-two with Cacau on the edge of the Hannover penalty area.
The Reds' goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler had to be on his toes to save from another Didavi effort shortly after, before Cacau deflected Ibrahima Traore’s shot into the back of the Hannover net (16'). Fortunately for the hosts, however, the linesman deemed the forward to be in an offside position and the goal was chalked off.
Hannover were forced into a change seven minutes before half-time when Didier Ya Konan suffered a groin injury, with Hamburger SV loanee Artjoms Rudnevs taking the Ivory Coast international’s place in attack. At the other end, Didavi wanted a penalty when he was pushed by Marcelo inside the area, but referee Wolfgang Stark waved away the 24-year-old’s protests.
The hosts started the second half more positively and Lars Stindl almost set up Szabolcs Huszti for the opening goal eight minutes into the half, but the Hungarian skewed his shot wide from a tight angle. Hannover were fortunate not to fall behind moments later, though, when Cacau somehow managed to divert Didavi’s low cross past Zieler’s right-hand post.
VfB coach Huub Stevens threw on 18-year-old Timo Werner with 25 minutes remaining, but the youngster’s introduction failed to spark the match into life. Didavi, at the heart of most the Swabians' attacks, fired a 25-yard free-kick straight into the arms of Zieler, before Stindl failed to direct his shot on target.
With ten minutes remaining, Hannover came close to snatching a late victory as Stindl fought his way into the penalty area, but the midfielder’s well-struck left-footed effort was saved by Sven Ulreich in the Stuttgart goal, as both sides had to settle for a goalless draw.
Line-ups and statistics
The official Bundesliga YouTube channel presents this amusing clip. Hannover were not clinical with their chances, but Stuttgart's was even less clinical...