Lukas Podolski scored in each half to give Cologne a 2-0 win over Hannover 96, costing the visiting side a chance to go second in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Podolski chipped a free-kick over the Hannover wall past the helpless Ron-Robert Zieler in the 24th minute and sealed the win against the run of play with a fine effort from the left in the 86th minute.
Hannover had a goal ruled out in the 71st minute when Didier Ya Konan was ruled offside, despite playing no part in the build up when Lars Stindl cut the ball back for Sergio Pinto to blast past Michael Rensing from 13m.
“We were lucky,” Rensing said. “It was a regular goal.”
Appeals for a penalty were also waved away by referee Jochen Drees in the 84th minute when Christian Pander’s free-kick was blocked by an arm in the penalty area.
Hannover missed the chance to go four points behind Bayern Munich, who have a five-point lead over second-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach.
“If that goal had been given, the game would probably have turned out very differently,” Hannover coach Mirko Slomka said.
Earlier on Sunday, substitute Ivo Ilicevic’s 73rd-minute goal gave Hamburg SV a 2-1 win at SC Freiburg to move the Bundesliga’s bottom side level on points with the home side.
Ilicevic scored seven minutes after coming on for his Hamburg league debut after playing a neat one-two with Goekhan Toere and drilling a shot past Oliver Baumann.
South Korea’s Son Heung-min opened the scoring for Hamburg in the 12th minute, before Papiss Demba Cisse equalized in the 47th minute.
Freiburg were given a lifeline when Jeffrey Bruma conceded a penalty in the 80th minute, but Cisse sent the spot-kick wide right.
Hamburg sporting director Frank Arnesen took charge of the visitors, with new coach Thorsten Fink set to be presented yesterday.
“I’m very happy with the lads and very happy with the result. You have to earn your luck and luck was on our side,” Arnesen said. “It was a victory from us all, not from Frank Arnesen.”
Son was first to react when Baumann spilled a save from Heiko Westermann’s header from a corner, the 19-year-old heading his third goal of the season from close range.
Cisse equalized when the Hamburg defense failed to deal with a Felix Bastians cross and the Senegalese swept the ball past Jaroslav Drobny for his seventh goal of the season.
With Freiburg clearly dominant, Arnesen gambled on the introduction of Ilicevic and the move paid off when the Croat scored in a rare Hamburg attack.
“We looked for the gaps and created chances, especially in the second half. I can’t fault my team there — you can’t do any more,” Freiburg coach Marcus Sorg said. “Only the things have to go in and we’re working on that.”
In Cologne, Rensing pulled off a great save to deny Konstantin Rausch in the 33rd minute and Pinto struck the crossbar from distance after the break, before Adil Chihi did likewise with a header at the other end.
Podolski finally settled the issue when he played the ball through the legs of Pinto, before unleashing a slightly deflected effort from a tight angle to the far corner.
“I’m having fun playing football, not thinking too much about it,” Podolski said. “It’s OK when things are going well, but it’s always just one game. We have to make sure it lasts.”
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