Hannover put together an impressive second half recovery to beat Hamburg 2-1.
Michael Gregoritsch had put the home side ahead early on, but coach Michael Frontzeck’s double change at halftime proved dividends. Uffe Bech was key — his penalty victory helped his side get back on level terms before Salif Sane headed in the winner with about half an hour to play.
In a Northern Germany derby, Hamburg were the better side for most of the half. Gregoritsch, a prodigious young attacker who joined from Bochum this summer, put the hosts ahead on six minutes. The striker tapped into the net after great work from Nicolai Müller who created the situation out of nothing.
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Hamburg has never been relegated from the Bundesliga — their recent ‘Great Escape’ coming with an extra time win over Karlsuhe in the relegation playoff. The decisive goal in the fightback came courtesy of Marcelo Diaz’s late free kick in normal time. Diaz stood over this free kick on 26 minutes from a similar distance, but struck the woodwork as the Red Shorts dominated proceedings.
Müller, another of those goalscorers in Karlsruhe, passed up a brilliant chance on 35 minutes as Hamburg failed to put the game beyond doubt.
Frontzeck, a former Manchester City player, introduced Danish international Bech and Allan Saint-Maximin at the interval to add some impetus into their attack. The lively Bech brought pace and energy to the front line and he won a spot kick on 59 minutes, just seconds after Sven Schipplock missed a sitter to put the home side ahead. Hiroshi Kiyotake slotted home from the penalty spot, his second goal of the campaign.
On 66 minutes, Sane powered in a header from about 16 yards out to complete the comeback for Hannover as Frontzeck’s men secured a vital three points to move out of danger and up into 14th. Hamburg, meanwhile, pass up the chance to move into the European positions.
Meanwhile, Stuttgart picked up a massive win on their road to recovery, beating Darmstadt 2-0 to increase the cushion above the relegation zone.
An own goal from Gygory Garics in the first half, followed up by a late clincher from Timo Werner secured the points and put a dampener on Dirk Schuster’s 100th match in charge of newly-promoted Darmstadt. It’s a first away defeat for Schuster’s men who will be disappointed not to have taken chances of their own at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
While Schuster made just the two forced changes, Stuttgart coach Alexander Zorniger made three changes to the side that beat Carl-Zeiss Jena in the DFB Pokal second round win in midweek
Zorniger’s approach appeared more pragmatic: the Swabians used a 4-3-3 formation with Serey Die, Christian Gentner and Daniel Schwaab offering a more stable, controlling midfield three. In attack, Martin Harnik, Werner and Daniel Didavi covered all bases. But Harnik, due to injury, would be replaced early on by Alexandru Maxim.
Before the first minute was up, Didavi almost found the net, curling a ball across the face of goal, just missing the target. Didavi’s second attempt from distance kept Christian Mathenia on his toes, while Florian Klein should have netted on 26 minutes.
Stuttgart’s goalie Przemyslaw Tyton was actually bought as a number two this summer, but the injury to Mitch Langerak has seen the Polish keeper hold the fort. Tyton, culpable for individual mistakes in previous games, would turn out to be one of Stuttgart’s biggest performers. He pulled off a fine save on the half hour mark to deny Marcel Heller’s goal bound left-foot shot.
On the stroke of half time, Maxim’s corner kick fell kindly in the box to Emmanuel Insua, but his shot from about 20 yards hit the woodwork. But finally on 68 minutes, Zorniger’s men found the deserved breakthrough: Maxim’s corner caused trouble once more and Darmstadt’s Garics turned the ball past his own goalie.
Heller’s rapid pace was a threat on the break and Darmstadt could have leveled within five minutes. The 29-year-old attacker steamed away from his markers, but Stuttgart cleared right at the point he was about to pull the trigger.
On 84 minutes, Tyton kept the hosts in the lead, saving one-vs-one with Heller who decided to shoot from seven yards out. As Darmstadt sensed some panic in the Stuttgart ranks, Tyton stood firm, dominating his box in a number of testing situations to keep the visitors at bay.
And in stoppage time, the Swabians could breathe a huge sigh of relief as Werner charged through on goal, round Mathenia and had the easy task of putting the ball in an empty net. Since establishing himself in the first-team under a month ago, the 19-year-old has netted three times.