Hanover managed an impressive comeback win in their Europa League matchup against Levante, while Bayer Leverkusen picked up a key away win. Later, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Stuttgart both suffered defeat.
Controversy came quickly in Hanover's Europa League group stage game against Valencia-based club Levante on Thursday. Defender Karim Haggui was shown a straight red in the ninth minute for taking down forward Theofanis Gekas in the box. Midfielder Michel dispatched the ensuing penalty kick and it was an early 1-0 lead to the visitors.
Down to 10 men, Hanover brought on Brazilian defender Felipe for winger Jan Schlaudraff to shore up their back line, and immediately put pressure on Levante. It took just over 10 minutes for the hosts to get their revenge.
Midfielder Szabolcs Huszti, as he has so many times this season, delivered when he took the ball into the box in the 21st minute. Vicente Fuente Iborra went in for the tackle against the Hungarian, but the ball hit his arm and the referee called for a penalty. Huszti sent the kick low into the right corner, bringing his team level.
Pressure pays off
Hanover continued to put pressure on Levante, and did well to threaten the visitors for the remainder of the half, despite playing a man down.
The hosts pressed further when play resumed, and it did not take long for them to find the back of the net for a second time. Captain Steve Cherundolo sent in a 49th minute cross, finding midfielder Lars Stindl. His first and second attempts were blocked, but the ball fell to Didier Ya Konan, who fired past goalkeeper Keylor Navas to give Hanover the lead.
Late into the second half Levante responded with pressure of their own, but it was too little, too late for the visitors. Key saves from Ron Robert Zieler kept his side in the lead, and they held on to win 2-1.
Hanover coach Mirko Slomka was understandably pleased. "When you play nearly all 90 minutes with a man down then you are, of course, very satisfied if you come back after a red card and a penalty. That was remarkable." he said.
Hanover now sits atop group L with four points. They host Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga on Saturday. They face Swedish club Helsingborg next in the Europa League on October 25.
Substitute Kiessling wins it
It took Bayer Leverkusen 76 minutes to get on the score sheet in their Group K matchup against Swedish club Rosenborg, but Stefan Kiessling needed only 60 seconds. The striker came off the bench in the 75th minute and immediately provided the winner in his side's 1-0 victory.
It was a scrappy opening period of play, with English referee Michael Oliver handing out three yellow cards in the first half.
After finishing the first 45 minutes scoreless, Leverkusen Coach Sammi Hyypiä was happy to make changes, and his decisions paid off.
Midfielder Sidney Sam, who scored both goals in his side's 2-0 victory over Greuther Fürth in the Bundesliga on Saturday, replaced Andre Schürrle in the 64th minute. Striker Junior Fernandes gave way for Kiessling in the 75th minute.
Kiessling made the most of his brief appearance just moments later when he fired a left-footed shot through the middle of the penalty area from 12 yards (10.9 meters) out. His shot, assisted by Sam, beat keeper Daniel Örlund, and the visitors held on to win 1-0.
As a result, Leverkusen find themselves in second place in Group K, and play next in the European competition away to Rapid Vienna.
Ups and downs at Gladbach
Mönchengladbach’s home match against an impressive Fenerbahce was something of a roller coaster ride with the Germans taking a lead on 18 minutes through Luuk de Jong.
Havard Nordtveit played a cross in deep to the back post for de Jong to put it away decisively past keeper Volkan Demirel.
Brazilian defensive midfielder Cristian levelled things up when he arched a superb free-kick over Mönchengladbach past a defeated Marc-André ter Stegen.
It looked as though the teams might be going in level at the break when Fenerbahce's Caner Erkin squared a free-kick to Raul Meireles. The Portuguese midfielder controlled the ball and then smashed it into the bottom corner.
The dip in fortune continued after the break for Gladbach as a ball chipped down the left flank put Erkin into a dangerous position on 71 minutes. His short cross was deliciously dispatched by former Liverpool man Dirk Kuyt.
There was light at the end of the tunnel though, when Juan Arango charged down the left to tee up Igor De Camargo, who put the ball away emphatically.
If Arango was pleased with himself, he probably wasn't when he was dispossessed to allow a swift counterattack that saw Cristian score his second - the final score 4-2 to the Turkish team.
"It’s a shame but the devil is in the detail," said Gladbach coach Lucien Favre. "We began well and at times played very well but we just conceded too many goals."
Mönchengladbach now lie in third place in Group C and play host to Marseille in their next bout of Europa League action.
Attack not the best form of defense
In Norway, Molde’s Pape Pate Diouf almost took the lead after just four minutes - but was too close to Stuttgart keeper Sven Ulreich to make his effort count.
Stuttgart had their chances, too; Molde keeper Espen Bugge Pettersen was found wanting only for Ibrahima Traore to hit the bar and completely miss the follow-up. There were further wasted opportunities from Stuttgart’s Martin Harnik and Tamas Hajnal before the break.
The story was the same at the start of the second half, as the Germans came out with all guns blazing.
After a miss by Ibrahima Traore, there was a great chance for Martin Harnik, which was blocked by Pettersen.
Just minutes later though, Stuttgart's defensive frailties allowed Molde to get their noses in front with substitute Jo Inge Berget nodding in a simple back post header. The assist came from Martin Linnes, who crossed the ball after a run to the byline.
Molde looked set to widen the gap on 66 minutes through an effort by Nigerian striker Daniel Chima and the follow-up by Berget. Stuttgart escaped by the skin of their teeth.
It was Chima, though, who sealed victory for Molde on 88 minutes - having moments before had a goal ruled offside. A high ball dropped into the box, allowing Mattias Mostrom to tee up Chima who finished sublimely with the outside of his foot to make the result 2-0.
Stuttgart languish at the bottom of group E and will be hoping for a radical change in fortune when they entertain Copenhagen.