Hanover continued to surpass expectations, rising to second in the standings with a 2-1 win over beleaguered Stuttgart. Now, just third from bottom, Stuttgart has decided to dump its coach, Jens Keller.
Goal hero Ya Konan can now boast nine for the season
Ivorian Didier Ya Konan scored twice to give Hanover a 2-1 win over Stuttgart on Friday, taking his team to second place in the Bundesliga ahead of the weekend's main soccer action.
The loss was also the final straw for Stuttgart's management, which announced on Saturday that it had fired coach Jens Keller.
After a cautious start by both sides, Ya Konan had the first major chance of the match in the 20th minute, with a shot that was stopped by Stuttgart keeper Sven Ulreich.
While Stuttgart battled back, they were unable to gain a much-needed point
The breakthrough came on 35 minutes, after Stuttgart left back Arthur Boka got a defensive foot to a ball from Hanover's Lars Stindl - only to divert it to Ya Konan. The striker took advantage and passed the ball through Ulreich's legs to take his tally for the season to eight.
Stuttgart responded positively, pressing throughout the game, and - with just a quarter of an hour to go - managed to equalize as Georg Niedermeier jumped to head a Timo Gebhart free kick into the far corner.
The comeback was short-lived. After another attempt on the Hanover goal, this time from Philip Degen, Hanover swiftly counter-attacked. Ya Konan latched onto a high ball from Christian Schulz to score through Ulreich's legs for a second time.
'An exceptional start'
The win means that Hanover have already recorded one more victory than in the whole of last season.
"It is exceptional what we have achieved in the first half of the season," said Hanover technical director Joerg Schmadtke.
Stuttgart is now without a win in its last five games and is third from the bottom with only 12 points from 16 games.
This dreary realization was enough for the team to pull the plug on Jen Keller's 59-day rein as head coach. The hottest prospect to replace him is Bruno Labaddia, who coached Hamburg until the end of April.
In Saturday's football, Bayern host St. Pauli, Hamburg entertain Bayer Leverkusen and Cologne are at home to Eintracht Frankfurt. Nuremberg travel to Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg visit Kaiserslautern and Bremen will be hoping for an away win against leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Author: Richard Connor (dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Matt Zuvela