Didier Ya Konan struck twice to steer Hannover 96 to a 2-1 win over VfB Stuttgart and into second place in the Bundesliga on Friday as their opponents sunk deeper into trouble.
The Ivorian notched his ninth goal of the season only two minutes after Georg Niedermeier had leveled for troubled Stuttgart in the 74th minute for Hanover’s fifth straight win.
Ya Konan had also given them a deserved 35th minute lead after Hanover missed several good chances in the early stages.
The result lifted Hanover, who have already recorded one more victory than in the whole of last season, to a club record 31 points from 16 games, one more than third-placed FSV Mainz 05, who take on Schalke 04 today.
“It is the 31 points that matter and not the second place,” Hanover coach Mirko Slomka said.
“To be able to turn the game after the equalizer was very good. The team believes in itself, it is tied together and not affected by anything from the outside,” he said.
Stuttgart, whose coach Jens Keller was already under immense pressure before the game, are anchored in 16th place in the 18-team table with just 12 points.
Keller had taken over from Swiss Christian Gross in October but has failed to turn things with Stuttgart bosses saying this week they were to meet yesterday to discuss the situation.
Former Hamburg SV coach Bruno Labbadia has been reported to be in talks with Stuttgart.
“I am deeply disappointed by the team, especially in the first half,” said Keller, whose team, however, top their Europa League group.
“If we play like we played today there is no need to look higher up the table. We have to stop thinking we are better than our place in the standings,” Keller added.
“As for my position, this is not something I think about. I believe I am doing a good job but I cannot influence other things,” he said.
Borussia Dortmund, on 40 points, host Werder Bremen today while fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen, on 29, were to travel to Hamburg yesterday.