November 19, 2017

Hertha Berlin 0-2 Hannover 96: Kiyotake & Co. lift Hannover to 4th

Supporters of both Hannover and Hertha Berlin were hoping that Friday’s game would see their club get back on track after some recent patchy form. Both sides lost last week in the DFB Pokal to lower league opposition and at the weekend Hertha lost 3-1 away to Paderborn while Hannover beat Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0. Despite their topsy-turvy form, Hannover, who have won 2 of their last 5, were in the top 6 thanks a sturdy defence that has conceded only 11 goals in their first 10 games of the season. On the other hand the home side were looking to put more distance between them and the relegation zone.

In light of Hannover’s struggle to score goals, 7 in their last 10, it was somewhat surprising to see them take control of the game early on. In the 3rd minute Hiroshi Kiyotake had a long-range effort after the space in front of him opened up but Thomas Kraft easily saved it. This was followed by a distasteful incident where Joselu spent quite a lot of time after going up for the ball and getting Hertha defender Johnny Heitinga’s studs in his back. It was surprising to see the player not even booked, as it could’ve been worse for the Dutch defender.

The former Everton defender then got another talking to from the referee after he made a challenge on Hannover striker Jimmy Briand, however this challenge seemed legitimate and the Hertha players felt aggrieved with the decision. The French striker who had been the attention of Heitinga then created a chance for midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt with a lofted ball into the box. The German-Brazilian midfielder hit it on the half volley but Kraft replied with an instinct save.

Hertha then created an opening of their own after impressive build-up play led to a cross to Salomon Kalou who headed down for Genki Haraguchi but the Japanese winger got underneath it and sent his effort skyward. Their roles were reversed 7 minutes later when the former Urawa Reds attacker played in Kalou with a bouncing ball that just as Kalou got under control was knocked away from him with a last-ditch tackle. The ball went into the path of fellow new signing Valentin Stocker but his shot from a tight angle only found the side netting.

The home side were then gifted another opportunity after one of the four Japanese players on the pitch, Hiroki Sakai, got the ball stuck under his foot whilst attempting a pass, sending it straight to Kalou. The Ivorian drove towards the heart of the Hannover defence and with a man either side he went himself but his effort was poor.

The away side then took the lead in the 43rd minute when set-piece specialist Kiyotake took a corner from the far side and it landed inside the box allowing Briand, who had a goal controversially disallowed against Frankfurt last week, to fire home his 1st goal for the club.

The 2nd half was periodic in terms of action with lively 5-minute spells followed by quiet 10-15 minute periods. Kiyotake and Joselu combined in the 47th minute to play in Leonardo Bittencourt who from a tight angle decided to shoot rather than pull it back which greatly frustrated his teammates. The 20-year old was selfish again only 5 minutes later when Hannover countered enabling Bittencourt and Joselu to be 2-on-1 with Heitinga but rather than pass the youngster tried to take on the Dutchman and subsequently his shot was blocked.

In the 55th minute nearly everyone thought Kiyotake had given his side the lead but as the Hannover players wheeled away to celebrate the linesman raised his flag against Bittencourt. The Japanese playmaker was coming forward with the ball when he was tackled by Heitinga which caused the ball to fall to Bittencourt. It looked like Heitinga had got the last touch meaning Bittencourt wasn’t offside and he played it back to Kiyotake who finished neatly but replays showed that the ball had rebounded off of Kiyotake last meaning Bittencourt was offside and as a result the goal was chalked off.

5 minutes later Ceyhun Gülselam had a great headed chance from yet another Kiyotake set-piece after captain Christian Schulz headed it on at the near post but the Turkish midfielder was off-target from close range. The only other event of real note for the remainder of the game was Hannover’s 2nd goal, scored by Kiyotake who rounded off his brilliant performance with a superb finish. It came from a Hertha mix-up after substitute Ronny passed to Marvin Plattenhardt who missed the ball allowing Joselu to steal in. The Spaniard passed to Bittenourt who once again found Kiyotake allowing his teammate to break clear before cutting back and putting the ball past a helpless Kraft.

After the international break Hertha they face a journey to face FC. Köln and then they host FC Bayern Munich whilst Hannover host Bayer Leverkusen before travelling to 1899 Hoffenheim.

Line-Ups:

Hertha Berlin: Kraft – Heitinga, Pekarik, Plattenhardt, Lustenberger (55. Brooks) – Hosogai, Skjelbred, Beerens, Haraguchi (74. Wagner), Stocker (60. Ronny) – Kalou

Hannover 96: Zieler – H. Sakai, Schulz, Marcelo, Thesker – Gülselam, Schmiedebach, Kiyotake (87. Sobiech), Bittencourt (76. Stindl) – Briand (90+2), Joselu

Header image courtesy of Tiroler Tageszeitung

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Ryan currently lives in Northern Ireland but studies Mechanical Engineering in Scotland at Robert Gordon University. His complete obsession for all divisions of German football as a whole is only beaten by his love for 1899 Hoffenheim, he could possibly be the only Hoffenheim fan in the World for whom English is a first language, certainly the only one in the UK. He tries to make it to Germany for football at least once a year.

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