October 4, 2012
Hannover overcome the odds to win
Hannover came back from a goal behind and a man down in the opening 10 minutes to beat defeat Europa League Group L rivals Levante 2-1.
Karim Haggui was dismissed for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity when he brought down Theofanis Gekas and Michel slotted away the resultant penalty after just nine minutes.
However, the German side would not lie down and were deservedly level when Szabolcs Huszti also scored from the penalty spot after Vicente Iborra had been penalised for handball.
Didier Konan's finish from close range four minutes into the second-half was then enough to give last season's Europa League quarter-finalists all three points as they moved to the top of the standings.
Levante boss Juan Ignacio Martinez had shown where his priorities lie by making seven changes from the side that lost at Osasuna at the weekend but it looked like his gamble would pay off when the hosts got off to the worst possible start.
Pedro Rios' cute reverse ball on the edge of the area freed Gekas inside the area and the Greece international was clearly brought down by Haggui. Referee Liran Liany was left with no choice but to send the Tunisian off and Michel duly dispatched the penalty into the bottom corner.
However, thereafter Levante were well off the pace. Huszti brought them level after Iborra was penalised for playing the ball with his hand whilst on the floor and the diminutive midfielder also saw his free-kick fly just over the bar 10 minutes before half-time.
The visitors started the second-half just as they had ended the first and were punished when Konan reacted quickest to slot home after Felipe's initial effort had been blocked.
Going behind did at least seem to wake Levante from their slumber and they had three great chances to claim at least a point.
Gekas was first to threaten as his free header from seven yards out was brilliantly turned away by Ron-Robert Zieler before Nabil El Zhar failed to direct his header on target from Pedro Rios' dangerous cross.
However, the best chance fell to Rios in stoppage time after a neat one-two with Ruben Garcia had put him clean through on Zieler. The German international stood up to block the former Getafe man's effort and with that Levante's hopes were gone.