It’s hard to get excited about derbies in the Geisterspiel era. Nevertheless, there was little doubting the importance of the match between bitter Lower Saxony rivals Eintracht Braunschweig and Hannover 96 in the build-up to Saturday’s meeting.
On Tuesday, around 200 Braunschweig fans managed to break into their Eintracht-Stadion ground, cheering their team as if they were there for the game, supposedly to give the struggling side a boost ahead of the big match.
Their actions caused an outcry, not least because social distancing seemed to be very far from their thoughts. The club confirmed on Sunday that the fans had been let in by an employee of one of the club’s independent fan projects, who has since been relieved of their duties.
If the ultras had hoped to follow this up by causing a commotion outside the Hannover players’ hotel the night before the game, they were disappointed, with Kenan Kocak asking his players only to meet on the morning of the match to avoid such circumstances.
Nevertheless, die Roten started the game as if they’d been up all night, with the sort of lethargic performance that has been so common in the past couple of seasons. Braunschweig were the brightest team, with Nick Proschwitz just failing to connect with a cross before new signing Ji Dong-won scored a stunning goal to put his side into a deserved lead.
That was the kind of quality they had been hoping for from the Mainz loanee, and whilst they weren’t brilliant, it felt as though they were in charge of the game in the opening half-an-hour, with Hannover simply not getting started.
Yet they were behind by half time, their leaky defence again proving their undoing. Firstly, Valmir Sulejmani headed in a Niklas Hult cross, before the left-back then also set up Marvin Ducksch with another delivery just two minutes later.
A couple of important saves from Jasmin Fejzic kept them in it in the second half, before substitute Marcel Bär was denied late on as Hannover goalkeeper Michael Esser put his shot onto the bar and over.
“We had five minutes in which we defended poorly,” said the club’s managing director Peter Vollmann, who felt the side had deserved at least a point, thoughts echoed by coach Daniel Meyer. The former Aue boss was at least pleased that his side had made a better impression than the 4-1 defeat in the reverse fixture – a game they had also led.
“With our fans behind us, a lot would have been easier today,” added an equally disappointed Fejzic, and who’s to know just what a difference that would have made not just to this game but to their entire season.
Just four wins all season leave Meyer’s side second bottom, and whilst Sandhausen immediately above are still in touch, a five-point gap between them and safety is as adrift as they’ve looked all season. Oh to have fans on the Südkurve again.
Unfortunately, there was a bitter postscript to the game, with several Braunschweig players claiming that Hannover sporting director Gerhard Zuber had spat at them. Zuber called the claims “completely unfounded” whilst Braunschweig themselves have said that the matter is closed.
▪ Another VAR shitstorm broke out after SpVgg Greuther Fürth’s 4-1 come-from-behind win over Würzburger Kickers. With the game still at 2-1, referee Arne Aarnink awarded Fürth a penalty with Hendrik Bonmann appearing to bring down Jamie Leweling. Replays – especially the second in the clip below – clearly showed there was little, if any, contact, yet video referee Matthias Jöllenbeck upheld the decision, Bradimir Hrogta converted the spot kick and Fürth cruised to a victory that hadn’t always looked certain. The cries for the abolition of VAR rang loud on Twitter yet again. It was a laughable decision from Jöllenbeck, but few were dwelling on the on-field’s referee’s mistake or the Fürth youngster’s probable dive.
▪ Hamburger SV produced one of their best performances of the season on Friday, going 3-1 up in the deep east of the Ore Mountains. Yet, this is HSV, so of course they only came away with a point from the game against FC Erzgebirge Aue. The first 45 minutes were a breeze, with a Simon Terodde brace sandwiching a David Konsombi goal. Yet the Jan Hochscheidt strike on the counter that had brought the game back to 2-1 hinted at what was to come, as Hamburg eased off in the second half and conceded twice in ten minutes to Clemens Fandrich and a goal-of-the-season contender from Florian Krüger. Despite wins for Bochum, Fürth and Kiel (more on them below), they remain top by two points.
▪ On Super Bowl Sunday, Karlsruher SC paid tribute to the NFL with a unique corner routine in their otherwise uneventful goalless draw with SSV Jahn Regensburg. The new move involved six players waiting on the near side of the penalty box, before running into the centre of the box as the corner is whipped in, in the style of an onside kick. Neither of the first half attempts came close to producing a goal, however.
▪ Regensburg could be forgiven for a lethargic performance in that game after taking Köln all the way in the DFB-Pokal four days earlier. Holstein Kiel though had had six days to recover from their penalty shootout win against Darmstadt before their 2-0 win on Monday night over Fortuna Düsseldorf, winless in four. The pick of the goals was the second, with Lee Jae-song playing a key part in orchestrating the move before finishing it himself, despite an initial shot being saved by Florian Kastenmeier.
FC Erzgebirge Aue 3-3 Hamburger SV
FC St. Pauli 2-1 SV Sandhausen
Eintracht Braunschweig 1-2 Hannover 96
SV Darmstadt 98 1-2 1. FC Nürnberg
VfL Osnabrück 1-2 VfL Bochum
SpVgg Greuther Fürth 4-1 Würzburger Kickers
Karlsruher SC 0-0 SSV Jahn Regensburg
SC Paderborn 07 P-P 1. FC Heidenheim
Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-2 Holstein Kiel