Stuttgart boost hopes of avoiding relegation, draw Hannover
Stuttgart boosted its hopes of avoiding relegation from the Bundesliga by fighting to a 0-0 draw at Hannover on Friday.
Despite the energy-sapping tempo throughout, chances were a rarity in either penalty box as the pair looked to mathematically secure their safety from the drop.
Hannover’s crucial back-to-back wins over Hamburg and Eintracht Frankfurt has all but ensured their survival, while Stuttgart’s four unbeaten keeps them out of the drop zone.
Huub Stevens, the Stuttgart coach, showed his faith in last week’s hero Cacau by picking him in attack for the second match in successive weeks.
The striker combined cleverly with Daniel Didavi who drove the ball wide left-footed from 20 yards inside the first five minutes.
After a solid start and an early warning sign, Stuttgart had a goal ruled out for offside in the 15th minute.
Ibrahima Traore dribbled inside from the left-wing, striking from the edge of the box, but the ball collided with Cacau who was in an offside position as the ball beat Ron-Robert Zieler.
But while the opening stages were promising, Stuttgart rarely threatened Zieler for the rest of the half.
Only a penalty claim in the final minute before the interval against Marcelo, who nudged Didavi off-the-ball, got either set of supporters worked up. Both players were booked for their troubles.
Hannover opened up a fine chance on 46 minutes when Lars Stindl played in Szabolcs Huszti who blazed over on his weaker foot.
Six minutes later, Stuttgart passed up the best chance of the game by far.
Gotoku Sakai’s quick-thinking set up Didavi whose left-foot thunderbolt into the six-yard-box found Cacau who threw himself at the ball and turned it high and over the crossbar.
Stevens went through his usual routine of substitutions, introducing a useful attacking trio in the last 20 minutes: Timo Werner, Vedad Ibisevic and Alexandru Maxim.
But it was goakeeper Sven Ulreich who was called into action with three minutes remaining, blocking Stindl’s shot to keep the scores level.