Werder Bremen booked their spot in the 3rd round of the DFB Pokal on Wednesday night after beating rivals Hannover 96 3-0 at the HDI Arena.
It was an easy win for Bremen, as first half goals from Theodor Gebre Selassie and Josh Sargent gave them a commanding lead before Jean-Manuel Mbom sealed off the tie at the hour mark. They won’t be favorites to win the competition, but there is a chance the club could be real dark horse contenders.
Story of the match
Bremen would grow into the game as it went on, and they took the lead right before the half hour mark. Ludwig Augustinsson whipped in a superb cross that eventually fell to fellow wingback Theodor Gebre Selassie at the back post, and he made no mistake with the finish, redirecting a volley into the bottom corner.
It would be 2-0 only moments later. Centerback Niklas Moisander went on a marauding run forward with the ball, dribbling past a few players before playing Josh Sargent in behind. The forward was able to do the rest, as he slotted home from close range.
The away side nearly had a third before the break, but Maximilian Eggestein’s shot from the edge of the area was tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Michael Ratajczak.
All things considered, it was a pretty dominant first half performance from Bremen, as they created chances going forward while keeping Hannover quiet at the back.
The home side did start the second half on the front foot, but it would be the Green-Whites who scored the next goal of the contest. Hitting on the counter, Jean-Manuel Mbom made a run into the area before finding Tahith Chong out wide. The Manchester United loanee then got towards the endline and hit a low cross into the area which picked out Mbom for an easy tap-in finish.
That would prove to be the final moment of any importance, as Bremen held on to keep a clean sheet and seal their spot in the round of 16.
It was a complete performance from Bremen, which isn’t something fans have seen a lot of as of late.
They did start a bit slowly, but once they got going, Hannover just couldn’t do anything to stop them. Bremen were able to get their wingbacks high up the pitch, and it wasn’t a surprise to see Augustinsson and Selassie link up to create the opening goal. They were also dangerous up the middle of the pitch, showcased by Sargent’s strike only moments later.
At that point, Bremen decided to sit back and limit any space in behind while hitting on the break themselves. That also worked to their advantage, as Mbom sealed the result with his tap-in at the hour mark. The defense was even able to hold on and keep a clean sheet, which should serve as a confidence boost for the backline and goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka.
Bremen knew they were favorites and they played like it, winning with relative ease on the night. Now, the pressure will be on to keep playing like this when the Bundesliga resumes next weekend.
Another bad day at the office
It’s been a tough season for Hannover, and this result would not have helped in terms of increasing the team’s morale.
Sat in 12th place in the 2.Bundesliga going into the contest, Hannover have already accepted the fact that they’ll be fighting to avoid relegation instead of pushing for promotion. That’s why there were some hopes going into this match, as a cup victory against their rivals could at least provide fans with some joy.
That is not what happened, though, as Hannover were easily beaten at home. They were poor defensively and toothless going forward, leading to a pretty easy day at the office for the opposition. There was a gulf in class between the two sides, which should be especially concerning for Hannover since Bremen are far from the best the top flight has to over.
If this showing is anything to go by, this campaign will continue to be a rough one for Hannover.
Man of the match - Theodor Gebre Selassie
It was a perfect night for Theodor Gebre Selassie, as he scored and kept a clean sheet as his side won with relative ease.
The experienced defender had more attacking freedom than usual, and he certainly made the most of it, pushing forward every time he got the chance. It led to an early chance that he missed, but Selassie wouldn’t make the same mistake a second time, as he volleyed home a superb cross from Augustinsson.
He could have had more, to be fair, as Selassie made a few dangerous runs in behind that weren’t noticed by his teammates. He won’t mind too much, though, as his solid defensive shift helped Bremen keep a clean sheet as well.
This might be his last season for the club, but performances like this show Selassie still has a lot left to offer at the age of 33.