A seventh straight home defeat has all but consigned Hannover 96 to Bundesliga 2 next season. Despite a performance that couldn’t be faulted for effort, Hannover proved too harmless and susceptible on the break as Hamburg cruised to victory in the end.
Following a cagey start to proceedings, only Ivo Ilicevic will know how Hamburg failed to open the scoring in the 12th minute. The Croatian contrived to fire over an open goal from less than five metres out after Sven Schipplock had presented him with a simple chance. The let-off seemed to jolt Hannover into life and the home side dominated for long periods of the first half without seriously threatening Rene Adler’s goal. Hamburg were happy to soak up the pressure and play on the counter. The visitors thought they’d taken the lead half an hour in, but Schipplock’s effort was ruled out after he was adjudged to have pushed his marker.
It was a similar story in the second half as Hannover took the game to Hamburg, but were unable to convert possession into real scoring opportunities. They were dealt a sucker punch on the hour mark as Cleber rose the highest to head home from Aaron Hunt’s corner. The goal enabled Hamburg to sit back and wait for further chances and they doubled their advantage when Ilicevic finished off a clinical counter-attack. Just two minutes later, Hannover were sliced open once again and Nicolai Müller had both the time and the composure to round Ron-Robert Zieler and put the game to bed once and for all.
As far as effort goes, Hannover deserved more than this defeat. Yet their failure to carve out any meaningful chances in such a crucial game goes a long way to explaining the miserable home form this season that has left their Bundesliga status hanging by a thread.
Man of the Match
With his assist for Ilicevic and ice-cool finish to make it 3-0, Nicolai Müller made all the difference for a Hamburg attack that had been kept well in check for the first hour of the match.
- Hannover have now lost seven straight home matches in the Bundesliga, failing to score in the last five.
- Ivo Ilicevic has set a new personal best in a Hamburg shirt with his fourth goal of the season.
- As has Nicolai Müller, who recorded his eighth of the season.
- Hamburg scored three goals from five shots in the second half.
Hannover: Zieler - H.Sakai, Milosevic, Schulz, Sorg - Gülselam (Bech 71’) - Fossum, Prib - Kiyotake - Szalai, Almeida
Hamburg: Adler - Diekmeier, Cleber, Spahic, G.Sakai - Ekdal, Holtby (Jung 46') - Müller, Hunt (Gregoritsch 69’), Ilicevic - Schipplock