Marvin Ducksch hit twice from the bench as Hannover 96 came from behind twice to beat VfL Osnabrück in an all-Lower Saxony duel.
Assan Ceesay had given the hosts the lead, which was restored early in the second half by Etienne Amenyido after an own goal from Joost van Aken had put Hannover level.
Ducksch’s introduction proved a turning point, with Genki Haraguchi finishing off the win that lifts Hannover back into the top half of the table.
Ducksch shows sings of his best
Ducksch has often cut a frustrated figure at Hannover and has been increasingly on the periphery under Kenan Kocak. His future at the club was looking increasingly uncertain, especially after he was suspended against 1. FC Nürnberg after turning up late to a team meeting.
With Hannover 2-1 down early in the second half, Kocak brought him on alongside Hendrik Weydandt, and this would prove to be the game-changing move, with Ducksch showing glimpses of the striker that terrorised 2. Bundesliga defences for Holstein Kiel in the 2017-18 season.
He didn’t do it all alone. Genki Haraguchi, who rounded off the win late on, managed to break Hannover out of their second half malice with a run into the box that was halted by Amenyido, who up to that point had been the best player on the pitch after contributing to both of Osnabrück’s goals.
Ducksch firmly converted the spot kick, and five minutes later he would put push the pendulum firmly in Hannover’s favour. Timo Hübers, a revelation since returning from long-term knee problems, launched a counter, finding Weydandt on the right. He made the perfect cross to pick up his striker partner Ducksch, who bet the ball first time to beat Philipp Kühn.
Ducksch, who said he feels he has “trained well in the last few weeks,” wasn’t looking to take the credit after the game. “The fact that I was able to reward myself is all the nicer of course,” he explained, but added in typical footballer fashion, “but I’m more happy that we took the three points here today.” It’s not known whether he had to explain the hair (see below).
Two early goals
Amenyido, out with injury since November, replaced skipper Marc Heider in Daniel Thioune’s only change from his Onsabrück side’s 1-1 draw with Arminia Bielefeld last weekend. He was involved straight away, winning a penalty when Dominik Kaiser caught him in the box. Ceesay converted from the spot although Ron-Robert Zieler did get a touch.
Hannover were only behind for five minutes. Kaiser, captaining the side with Marvin Bakalorz and Edgar Prib on the bench, redeemed himself just five minutes later with a contribution to the equaliser. John Guidetti got a head onto his free-kick, with the ball deflecting off van Aken and in for an own goal.
Kenan Kocak had made just one change as well, Julian Korb coming into the team that beat Nürnberg in early March for the injured Sebastian Jung. He retained the 4-4-2 shape as well, at least in the first half, with Linton Maina, who had been a minor doubt before the game, out wide with Harachuchi and Cedric Teuchert supporting John Guidetti up front.
After the goals, the game remained evenly balanced, with Osnabrück’s 3-4-1-2 helping them to hold firmer than they had been before the long break. Although chances were limited to long-range efforts, several came close to adding to the scoring. A Teuchert volley beat Kühn but not the post, but the Osnabrück keeper was able to stop a strike from Genk Haraguchi. Bashkim Ajdini and Ulrich Taffertshofer both missed the target for the hosts.
Amenydio flourishes before tide turns
After a quick start in the first half, Osnabrück needed even less time in the second to restore their lead. Amenyido combined with Ceesay and Taffertshofer to good effect. Getting the ball back in the box, he kept running to find a gap, doing well to keep his composure on a pitch drenched by a downpour before half time. Eventually he struck, and found the back of the net.
Hannover had changed to a 3-5-2 formation but Kocak was not happy with what he had seen as he wasted little time in brininig on Ducksch and Weydandt for Teuchert and Guidetti. Ducksch was welcomed onto the field with a gift from Niklas Schmidt, who was unable to influence the game in the ‘ten’ role, but he could only pick out Maina, who didn’t have the space to get a shot away.
Kocak had used his tactical changes to great effect against Kiel a few months ago, and he continued to tweak his team with Philipp Ochs and Edgar Prib the latest to come on. They adopted a diamond shape now, with Waldemar Anton dropping back out of defence, but there was little sign of change until Haraguchi charged into the box to win the penalty.
Ducksch took it from there, and with the game now in Hannover’s favour, Haraguchi had the final say. Taking the ball from substitute Prib, he weaved his way Messi-like into the box before pulling the trigger. The Japanese international had looked a lost figure under Mirko Slomka earlier in the season, but under Kocak he is revitalised.
Osnabrück: Kühn; Heyer (Girth 85’), van Aken, Trapp; Ajdini, Taffertshofer (Farrona Pulido 85’), Blacha, Agu (Henning 85’); Schmidt (Álvarez 67’); Ceesay (Heider 67’), Amenyido.
Hannover: Zieler; Korb, Elez, Hübers, Horn; Maina (Ochs 67‘), Anton, Kaiser (Prib 67‘), Haraguchi (Bakalorz 90‘); Teuchert (Ducksch 58‘), Guidetti (Weydandt 58‘).
Goals: Ceesay (6’ P), Amenyido (47’); Van Aken (11’ OG), Ducksch (75’ P, 80’), Haraguchi (85’).
The contributions from Ducksch and Haraguchi helped to lift Hannover back into the top half, out of any immediate relegation danger. Thioune will likely have been disappointed with his side’s attacking efforts, the goals aside, with Marcos Álvarez’s free kick, saved by Zieler, their only effort of note once Hannover got going. As a result they continue to scrap at the wrong end of the table.
Elsewhere on Saturday
SV Darmstadt 98 bounced back from last week’s defeat to convincingly beat FC St. Pauli 4-0. Mathias Honsak gave them an early lead, with three goals in the last 16 minutes from Yannick Stark, Marvin Mehlem and Victor Pálsson. Dimitrios Diamantakos hit a late penalty wide for the visitors.
In the other game, SV Sandhausen and Jahn Regensburg played out a goalless draw. Erik Wekesser had a goal disallowed for the visitors, with Alexander Meyer keeping the hosts at bay at the other end.