After Mönchengladbach beat Mainz in Sunday's early match, second-placed Bayer Leverkusen were looking to keep pace with Bayern in their trip to Hannover. They ended up conceding a pair of penalties and losing 3-2.
Leverkusen came out firing on all cylinders and overran Hannover with their very first counter-attack. Lars Bender was played into a channel and pulled the ball back for Gonzalo Castro who put the visitors ahead after only 120 seconds.
It took Hannover a few minutes to find their feet, but they looked increasingly dangerous and knotted things up in minute 19. Manuel Friedrich was forced to bring down Szabolcs Huszti in the box. The Hungarian stepped up himself and slammed home the penalty.
After that, both sides sat back, hoping for a mistake by their opponents on a snowy pitch that looked as though it had caught a bad case of mange. The first half ended 1-1.
After the restart, Leverkusen were again the better team, but Hannover drew first blood. Jan Schlaudraff picked out Mame Biriam Diouf with a twenty-meter cross, and the striker headed home.
Leverkusen responded only sixty seconds later. The excellent Bender put in a cross for Stefan Kiessling, who racked up his tenth season goal. It was anybody’s game once more.
But Leverkusen shot themselves in the foot for the second time, when Stefan Reinartz brought down Huszti in the area. Déjà vu all over again - Huszti sank his own penalty, and the hosts went up 3-2. And that’s the way the score stayed.
Hannover move up to tenth. Leverkusen stay in second but are already eleven points behind league leaders Bayern Munich.
Foals win 2012 home finale
Europa League participants Mönchengladbach had played eight more matches than their visitors in this campaign, and that seemed to show, as Mainz took the clear initiative in Sunday's afternoon match.
Indeed, the Foals could thank their keeper Marc-André ter Steegen for foiling three chances by Andreas Ivanschitz and Shawn Parker to keep the game scoreless at half time. Gladbach coach Lucien Favre was spinning like a dervish on the sidelines in frustration just before the whistle.
The Foals came out of the dressing room with a revised attitude, and in minute 57 substitute striker Mike Hanke blasted home a volley after Gladbach's first decent attacking move in the match.
Another outrageous Arangooool
Five minutes later, Juan Arango added another goal that's sure to make every season highlight film. Mainz keeper Heinz Müller came out of his box and cleared the ball almost but not quite to the sideline, only to see the Venezuelan lob it back into his goal from 44 meters out. The ball was in the air for what felt like the better part of a day.
After that, Mainz were understandably shocked. The game ended 2-0. Mönchengladbach ascend to eighth in the table ahead of Mainz in eleventh.