Hannover fall short against Anzhi

Hannover 96's Europa League campaign came to an end as they fell short of turning around the 3-1 defeat in Moscow. Slomka's side just couldn't get the all important second goal against Anzhi before the Russian side grabbed a very late equaliser.

Hannover came devastatingly close to turning around their opening-leg deficit against Anzhi Makhachkala. The Reds went 1-0 up after 70 minutes thanks to Sergio da Silva Pinto but couldn’t find the decisive second. Lacina Traoré’s breakaway in the dying seconds made it 1-1, a result that sees Hannover exit the Europa League with a 4-2 aggregate defeat.

With a 3-1 first-leg deficit to turn around, Mirko Slomka didn’t hold back in his team selection for the return fixture inside the AWD-Arena. As expected, Sébastien Pocognoli’s eligibility in the Europa League saw him return at left back instead of Christian Pander and Manuel Schmiedebach came in for the ineligible André Hoffmann. The offensive power was provided by Mame Diouf, ‘Moa’ Abdellaoue, Didier Ya Konan and Szabolcs Huszti, the scorer in Moscow. The Reds started the game with a great deal of attacking intent. Huszti looked determined on the left-hand side and Hannover were giving Anzhi food for thought in defence. The opening ten minutes were mostly nearly-moments with crosses requiring several headers inside the box before eventually being cleared, but in the 12th minute the home fans must have thought they had goal number one of the two they at least needed. Huszti was released up the left wing and his early cross looked destined to be met by Abdellaoue in the centre, but the ball bounced up over the Norwegian’s outstretched leg and away for a throw in.

da Silva Pinto offers hope

The first heart-in-mouth moment at the other end followed minutes later as Hiroki Sakai misjudged a header in defence. Samuel Eto’o ran onto the ball but the former Inter Milan and Barcelona striker pulled his shot wide from ten yards. Despite the scare, Hannover continued to play offensively without fear and had two more great opportunities before the break to open their account – both from headers. First it was Ya Konan who played a first-time cross into the box that found Diouf, but 96’s top scorer could only watch on as the ball dropped inches wide of the post. It was the Ivorian himself who had the other chance five minutes before half time. Huszti’s deep free kick was delivered towards the penalty spot but Ya Konan’s header too went agonisingly wide of the upright.

Sergio da Silva Pinto's wonder goal gave the Reds real hope

The interval came at the wrong time for Mirko Slomka’s side as they were putting more and more pressure on their Russian opponents, something they failed to carry on in the second period. A 20-minute spell passed without a chance for either side, as they snow started falling heavily. 96-manager Mirko Slomka felt the need to intervene, bringing on Jan Schlaudraff for Manuel Schmiedebach. Then suddenly, out of nothing, Hannover had their lead. Once again it was Huszti’s quality on the left-hand side that provided the chance. The Hungarian dug out a cross that landed at the feet of Sergio da Silva Pinto on the edge of the box and the midfielder brilliantly adjusted his body to unleash a left-footed shot that rifled into the bottom corner past Gabulov. 1-0 to the Reds with 20 minutes still to go.

Eight minutes of stoppage time

The ball was swapped for a red one as the AWD-Arena’s pitch turned a snowy white and Slomka introduced Konstantin Rausch for Pocognoli and Artur Sobiech for Hiroki Sakai. There was no time for a breather for Hannover though, as Anzhi threatened on the break in their first offensive action of the half. Fortunately for the Reds, Ahmedov’s shot hit the side netting. With less than ten minutes to go 96 felt they should have had a penalty when Lassana Diarra seemed to bring down Diouf in the area but the referee didn’t agree and booked the Senegalese striker for diving.

The Hannover players felt that Diouf was fouled in the area

Eight minutes were added on for a stoppage that saw snow cleared from pitch and Hannover pushed hard for the all important second goal. However, the golden opportunity never came for the Reds and they were caught light at the back in the final seconds. Lacina Traoré broke away unopposed to slot the ball past Ron-Robert Zieler and put the result beyond doubt. It was a painful end to a hard-fought game for 96 who put everything into their performance but in the end were up against a strong side with quality players. A quick turnaround is now needed as Slomka’s men are back in action on Saturday in an important Bundesliga match against Hamburger SV. The push for a Europa League spot now becomes even more pivotal after tonight’s disappointing exit from the competition.

Matt Hardy

Hannover 96:
Zieler – Sakai (83’ Sobiech), Djourou, Schulz, Pocognoli (70’ Rausch) – Ya Konan, da Silva Pinto, Schmiedebach (61’ Schlaudraff), Huszti – Abdellaoue, Diouf

Anzhi Makhachkala: Gabulov – Logashov, João Carlos, Ewerton, Eschenko – Jucilei, Diarra – Boussoufa (79’ Carcela), Ahmedov (90’ Shatov), Willian (68’ Traoré) – Eto’o

Goals: 1-0 da Silva Pinto (70’), 1-1 Traoré (90+8’)
Yellow cards:
Sakai, Diouf, Ya Konan, Huszti – Logashov, Boussoufa, Ewerton, Gabulov, Eto’o
Jonas Eriksson