Werder Bremen won their first Bundesliga match of the season as a Max Kruse hat-trick saw them pummel northern rivals Hannover 96.
Bremen were the better side throughout, with Fin Bartels giving them the lead late on in the first half.
Kruse had set that up, and Bartels returned the favour with two assists for the striker as he scored his first three goals of the season to finally give his side lift off, the three points enough to see them move up a place to 16th in the table.
Bartels give Bremen deserved opener
After a promising performance, despite defeat, in Florian Kohfeldt’s first game in charge against Eintracht Frankfurt two weeks ago, Bremen were unchanged, however with numerous injury problems, André Breitenreiter had to make five changes from his side’s defeat to RB Leipzig. Michael Esser made a first Bundesliga start for Hannover in goal, with Florian Hübner, Miiko Albornoz, Sebastian Meier and Martin Harnik also coming in.
The game started promisingly, with Meier and then Felix Klaus have shots saved for Hannover, however it was the hosts who were playing the better. Max Kruse came closest for them in these early stages, shooting wide.
Theodor Gebre Selassie then came close, having to go for goal himself after a run on the right, being denied by Esser. The rebound found to Maximilian Eggestein but his effort was blocked as the ball eventually pinged out. Bartels was then denied a penalty after being brought down in the box by Salif Sané, before a Zlatko Junuzovic caused problems in the Hannover box before being taken by Esser.
The visitors, who have been going along nicely since their return to the Bundesliga, had a good spell after that, although it was a touch from Bremen’s Milos Veljkovic that almost put in a cross from Oliver Sorg, before Pirmin Schwegler struck over in search of what would have been a rare goal. Otherwise though, Hannover were struggling to pose much threat to their hosts.
Bremen’s play had deserved a goal, what would be just their fifth in the league all season, and just over five minutes before the break they got it. Schwegler gave away the ball to Bartels, who then found Kruse. Kruse played it back to Bartels with a superb through ball, with the wide man placing it over Esser and in.
Kruse goes goal-crazy with second half hat-trick
Hannover responded almost seconds into the second half. Jonathas and Harnik had barely been involved in the first, but they combined to near-deadly effect here, however the latter’s shot was blocked by Jiri Pavlenka. Sané also headed over from a corner as they went in search of an equaliser.
However Bremen soon added a cushion to their lead. A poor touch from Maier presented the ball to Philipp Bargrede, who sought out Kruse. A neat finish past Esser headed for the top corner, and the former Germany international had his first Bundesliga goal of the season.
He would have his second soon after. Bartels found him on his right, his first touch took it past Sané but his second was blocked by Esser – only for the ball to keep going and end up in the net.
Chances for Ihlas Bebou, Jonathas and Sané came and went as Hannover tried in vain to claw their way back into the game to perhaps put the shakes into a side that hadn’t won a league match since the end of April.
Kruse and Bartels combined again for a chance headed wide by Eggestein, before the pair again collaborated on a fourth goal for their side. It was similar to the third, with Bartels setting up Kruse who was on the right, and he placed it past Esser to complete his hat-trick to firmly end his, and Bremen’s, drought.