Hannover edge Frankfurt
Hannover 96 edged fellow strugglers Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2 away with an attacking display that produced three goals in the first half an hour on Thursday to take a huge step toward staying in the top tier. Their second straight league win after four consecutive defeats lifted Hannover to 12th place with 35 points, behind Frankfurt on goal-difference, and put eight points between them and the relegation playoff spot with three games left. Hannover got off to a flying start with Leon Andreasen charging through the Frankfurt defense to head in the opener after two minutes following good work from Christian Pander, but Martin Lanig drew the hosts level in the 13th minute. However, Hannover attacked at every possible opportunity and struck twice more in nine minutes with Lars Stindl heading in a Pander free-kick in the 20th minute and Ivorian forward Didier Ya Konan slotting home to give them a two-goal cushion at halftime. Eintracht, who could have guaranteed their safety with a victory, started the second half poorly as Hannover’s Andreasen and substitute Szabolcs Huszti hit the woodwork. Alex Meier cut the deficit against the run of play when he headed in from close range, but that was Eintracht’s last effort, while Hannover missed more chances in the final minutes.
Neymar, Alba out injured
A nightmare eight days for Barcelona was compounded on Thursday when forward Neymar and defender Jordi Alba were ruled out for up to a month with foot and thigh-muscle injuries respectively. Brazil international Neymar has a bruise on his left foot which has caused a buildup of fluid, while Spain leftback Alba has a strain in his right thigh, Barca said on their Web site. The injuries were sustained during Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final defeat to Real Madrid, with Neymar sidelined for about four weeks and Alba for three to four weeks, leaving them in a race to regain fitness before the end of the season. If they recover within the estimated time frame, they should return for Barca’s final La Liga match at home to La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid on May 18, the club added. The Catalan side’s 2-1 defeat by Real in the Copa del Rey showpiece followed their UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Atletico a week earlier and a shock 1-0 La Liga defeat at Granada last weekend.
Fans clash on busy highway
Police said at least 17 supporters of two rival Croatian clubs have been injured, two seriously, as they clashed on a busy highway. The supporters of Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split fought each other with baseball bats and iron bars on Wednesday on the highway linking Zagreb with Split on the Adriatic coast. Police said they were traveling in vans in the opposite direction when the encounter occurred. The motive of the fight between the fans of the two biggest rivals in Croatia was not immediately clear, but such clashes have often happened in the past. Police said several participants were arrested and several vehicles they were traveling in were demolished.
Beijing to host gala match
Brazil and Argentina will hold a South American Superclassico gala match on Oct. 11 at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, the countries’ respective federations said on Thursday. Brazil won the last two editions of the occasional friendly series in 2011, but there was no game last year, with Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari keen to give his players a free week in an already crammed schedule.