Berlin - Hannover 96 stretched their Bundesliga winning streak to three games, beating Hertha Berlin 2-0 in their own backyard to move into the UEFA Champions League qualifying spots for the time being at least.
Land of the rising stars
Both sides had to bide their time in search of a breakthrough, but it was the visitors who duly took the lead through Jimmy Briand on the stroke of half-time. Hiroshi Kiyotake then capped off a fine performance with a late second, as Hertha suffered their first defeat on home soil in four outings.
In the first Bundesliga game to ever boast the involvement of four fully-fledged Japanese internationals, it was Hannover and Kiyotake that made the brighter start to proceedings, with the Reds’ playmaker pulling the strings and firing off the first warning shot inside five minutes. Time and space were a luxury not afforded to either side with John Heintinga taking it upon himself to throw Hannover out of sync with some strong early challenges.
The physical approach appeared to do the trick though, as Hertha began finding their feet and carving out chances of their own. Genki Haraguchi fired narrowly wide from Salomon Kalou’s knockdown, before the Ivorian squandered a golden opportunity approaching the half-hour mark, lingering on the ball inside the area and allowing Marcelo to block his effort from eight yards with a last-ditch tackle.
Briand lands half-time hammerblow
With neither side willing to give an inch and both pressing purposefully throughout, Hertha and Hannover remained bereft of producing the all-important final pass. As a result it took a Kiyotake set-piece special to break the deadlock with his corner falling on a dime for Briand to fire home on the half volley, handing the visitors a half-time lead away from home for the first time this season.
Hannover picked up right where they left off in the second half and, within minutes of the restart, a slick passing move involving Kiyotake and Joselu almost saw them extend their lead, only for Leonardo Bittencourt to hit the side-netting from a tight angle. The capital city side’s plight was then made all the harder when captain Fabian Lustenberger was forced off before the hour mark with a suspected groin injury.
A strange twist of events saw Kiyotake put the ball in the back of the net in the 57th minute, but after taking time to deliberate over the decision, the referee rightly disallowed the effort for offside. Hertha did little to heed the warning, despite introducing Ronny off the bench, as Hannover maintained the upper hand with Ceyhun Gülselam heading over from a Christian Schulz flick on.
As time wound down in the encounter, the hosts commited increasingly more men forward in the hope of rescuing at least a point, forcing Hannover to drop gradually deeper and seek their chances out on the counter. However, one such break was all it took to make sure of the win. Marvin Plattenhardt conceded possession sloppily, allowing Kiyotake to beat Thomas Kraft one-on-one as Hannover scored more than once in a single game for only the second time this season to leave the capital with three points in their back pocket.
Line-ups and statisticsJames Thorogood