Cologne - After missing out on a place in Europe for two seasons running, Hannover 96 are once again steering a course for some of the continent's finest.
'We can rest easy'
Three wins on the spin have propelled Tayfun Korkut's side up to fourth in the standings, with the Reds now presiding over their highest points return after 11 matchdays in a decade.
"The last three games in the Bundesliga were great," said Hannover's leading scorer . "The team's worked tremendously hard in the last few weeks. I was in a bit of pain after taking a knock [at Hertha], but it doesn't hurt so much when you come away with all three points. We can rest easy during the international break."
A first away win of the campaign at Borussia Dortmund no less proved the catalyst for Hannover's notable league run. netted a stunning winner on that occasion and, a week after the Lower Saxony outfit snuck a 1-0 victory at home to Eintracht Frankfurt, the Japanese playmaker was back among the goals against Hertha Berlin on Matchday 11.
'A great sign'
"Kiyo's found the kind of form that can make a real difference for us in every game," explained Roten defender Christian Schulz. "Even though we're not guaranteed to score, we're still creating plenty of chances. We're happy to have won our last three and kept three clean sheets in the process. Fourth in the table is just a snapshot of how things are right now, but we're delighted all the same. It's a great sign for the team."
What's even more impressive is the fact Korkut appears to have found a cure for Hannover's once-chronic travel sickness. The 40-year-old took over from Mirko Slomka during the 2013/14 winter break with the club having lost their last ten league games on the road, yet oversaw four away wins from nine over the course of the ensuing Rückrunde and already has two under his belt in 2014/15.
'A long way to go'
"We've got a great team spirit," opined the 96ers' astute Turkish strategist. "We were really focussed from the first to the last against Hertha. We held it together defensively and gave them very few opportunities. That was our third clean sheet in a row and we're up to 19 points, but there's a long way still to go."
Providing the next yardstick for blossoming Hannover are sixth-in-the-table Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The Reds haven't beaten the Werkself in almost two years at the HDI-Arena, but you can bet your bottom dollar Korkut will find a way to break the cycle. It's just what he does.