Pohjanpalo salvages a point in Hannover with last-gasp header
Joel Pohjanpalo's second goal for the Rothosen deep into injury time meant Hamburg secured a point at the HDI Arena after Cedric Teuchert's 51st-minute opener.
Hamburg needed a last-minute equaliser from Joel Pohjanpalo to rescue a point in Hannover on Saturday (15th February), after an indifferent showing for the majority of the game. Both sides were unable to create many clear-cut opportunities in the first half, with the majority of the action taking place in the midfield area. Cedric Teuchert opened the scoring in the 51st minute, and HSV missed two gilt-edged opportunities to equalise soon after. However, with the clock winding down, it looked as if the away day blues were going to return, only for Pohjanpalo to step up and dramatically head into the net deep into injury time.
Little to seperate the two sides in uninspiring first half
There was only one enforced change from the Rothosen compared to last week's 2-0 victory over Karlsruhe, with Gideon Jung coming in for the injured Adrian Fein. The opening exchanges were tense, with both sides needing time to get used to the ball at their feet and the game littered with long balls and battles for possession in midfield. Around the 20 minute mark the Rothosen, vociferously backed by at least 15,000 travelling fans, turned the temperature up, looking more comfortable in possession and putting their hosts under pressure. Tim Leibold's tempting cross was headed just over the bar by Sonny Kittel, before a mazy run by Louis Schaub was only ended by an impressive stop by Hannover's Ron-Robert Zieler with his legs. The game was punctuated by lots of stoppages, with Anton and Kaiser both seeing yellow for late, cynical challenges, disrupting the flow of Dieter Hecking's troops before they could get into a threatening position.
Kenan Kocak's 3-5-2 system was working well against Hamburg's 4-3-3 formation, with little time in midfield for Hamburg and the Rothosen backline being pressed early, unable to settle into their passing game. Pacy striker Linton Maina had the best chance of the half for the team from Lower Saxony, muscling his way past Rick van Drongelen, only to see his left-footed effort curl away from Daniel Heuer Fernandes in the Hamburg goal. The danger looked most likely to come down the left flank for the Rothosen, with Tim Leibold looking dangerous as usual, and his whipped ball was only a centremetre or two in front of Lukas Hinterseer. All in all, there was little goalmouth action in a hard-fought first half.
Pohjanpalo steals a point at the last
The second half started in the worst possible way, as the hosts took the lead with the first chance of the half. Linton Maina was given far too much space down the left to get his cross away, which found Cedric Teuchert with his back to goal ten yards out. His first shot was blocked by Rick van Drongelen but the rebound fell kindly to the Hannover striker, who gobbled up the second opportunity and hit low with his right past the helpless Daniel Heuer Fernandes. Hamburg should have been level inside five minutes, with two chances that should have seen the net ripple. Tim Leibold did excellently to force his way through down the left-hand side, drive into the box and draw Ron-Robert Zieler. The 26-year-old's pull-back to the penalty spot found Bakery Jatta, who contrived to fire over the bar with the goal at his mercy. Another attack, this time down the right-hand side, saw Louis Schaub freed and drive to the byline, pulling back to the penalty spot as well, but Sonny Kittel's toe poke was cleared off the line by Hannover.
After the initial flurry of chances having been and gone, all of the momentum evaporated from Hamburg's attacking efforts, with Hannover content to sit deep and counter-attack, and errors in possession leading to few chances of note for the Rothosen. The usual late charge didn't come to fruition for Dieter Hecking's side, with Sonny Kittel's curling effort from the edge of the box in the 73rd minute the only meaningful effort on goal after the two gilt-edged chances just after Teuchert's opener. However, a final attack from Hamburg saw the ball nervously cleared at the last minute by Hannover out for a corner. Daniel Heuer Fernandes came up from the back, but wasn't needed as substitute Pohjanpalo freed himself from his marker and headed into the ground and past Ron-Robert Zieler to spark crazy scenes amongst the 15,000 travelling fans. All in all given the amount of chances on both sides a fair result, but Hamburg only seemed to wake up after going behind, for the second away game in a row. The Rothosen will have to be better next Saturday against arch-rivals St. Pauli at the Volksparkstadion.
Hannover 96: Zieler - Jung (77' Korb), Anton, Bakalorz, Horn, Albornoz - Kaiser - Maina, Haraguchi, Ochs (66' Prib) - Teuchert (71' Guidetti)
Hamburger SV: Heuer Fernandes - Beyer, Letschert, van Drongelen, Leibold - Jung - Schaub, Dudziak (66' Kinsombi) - Jatta (63' Harnik), Hinterseer (63' Pohjanpalo), Kittel
Goals: 1-0 Teuchert (51'), 1-1 Pohjanpalo (90'+6)
Attendance: 49,200 (sold out)
Referee: Dr. Matthias Jöllenbeck (Freiburg)
Yellow cards: Anton (30'), Kaiser (30'), Teuchert (39'), Albornoz (84') / -
Red cards: - / -