In a clash between two teams at opposite ends of the form table in 2016, Hannover 96 flipped the script courtesy of a come-from-behind 2-1 win against in-form VfB Stuttgart at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena.
Despite being on a run of eight straight defeats, it was Hannover who started brightly with Iver Fossum and Kenan Karaman both stinging the palms of Przemyslaw Tyton from range. However, the complexion of the game changed when the Reds’ backline went to sleep, allowing Timo Werner to head home unmarked from a free-kick.
Stuttgart assumed control, but after failing to press their advantage they were punished when Christian Schulz’s header ended Hannover’s run of 471 minutes without a goal. That visitors still had to ride their luck before the break though, as Ron-Robert Zieler denied Christian Gentner before Oliver Sorg cleared Georg Niedermeier’s header off the line.
Undeterred by the set-back, the hosts went on the front foot after the restart and looked the likelier to score as the game became increasingly open. However, after Alexandru Maxim and Filip Kostic squandered clear-cut chances, it was Hannover who grabbed the winner. Tyton did well to save Schulz’s initial effort, but could do little about the centre-back netting the rebound as Hannover picked up a first win under head coach Thomas Schaaf.
Man of the match
Schulz proved the most unlikely of heroes for Hannover as he marshalled the Reds’ backline, winning 64 per cent of his challenges and scoring both goals to help his side to a crucial victory.
There are signs of life from Hannover in the relegation battle. Many had already written them off, but victory in Stuttgart has moved the Reds to within four points of SV Werder Bremen in the relegation play-off spot.
- Werner set a new personal best in a single season after opening the scoring with his fifth goal of the current campaign.
- Stuttgart have now scored more goals from set-pieces in the second half of the season (six) than they did in the entirety of the first (five).
- Schulz scored for the first time since a 1-1 draw with Hertha Berlin in April 2015 and promptly bagged the second Bundesliga brace of his career.
- Stuttgart had 17 corners over the 90 minutes, but failed to score from any of them.
Stuttgart: Tyton – Großkreutz, Schwaab, Niedermeier, Insua – Die (Harnik 75’) – Rupp, Maxim, Gentner (c), Kostic – T. Werner (Kravets 76’)
Hannover: Zieler – Sakai, Sane, Schulz (c), Sorg – Hoffmann – Fossum (Sobiech 88’), Wolf (Klaus 75’), Kiyotake (Anton 90+1’), Yamaguchi – Karaman