Hannover 96 1-0 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: Kiyotake the difference as visitors produce toothless display

The away side needed a win on Saturday to protect themselves from automatic relegation, but they didn't produce anything worthy of even a point.

Hannover 96 1-0 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: Kiyotake the difference as visitors produce toothless display
Hannover continued their impressive post-relegation run with a win over Hoffenheim. (Photo: Hannover 96)
Hannover 96
1 0
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Hannover 96: (4-2-3-1): Zieler; Arkenberg, Anton, Sané, Albornoz; Schmiedebach, Fossum; Sarenren-Bazee, Kiyotake (Prib 63'), Klaus (Schulz 82'); Sobeich (Szalai 76').
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: (4-2-3-1): Baumann; Kaderábek, Bicakcic, Süle, Toljan; Rudy (Ochs 69'), Polanski (Schwegler 53'); Uth (Kuranyi 45'), Amiri, Volland; Kramaric.
SCORE: 1-0, Kiyotake 28'.
REFEREE: Wolfgang Stark (GER). Booked: Polanski 10', Sand 26', Volland 41', Anton 54', Prib 82'.
INCIDENTS: German Bundesliga match between Hannover 96 and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. The match was played at the HDI-Arena, Hannover.

Already-relegated Hannover 96 denied TSG 1899 Hoffenheim three points that would have promised them nothing worse than a relegation play-off on Saturday afternoon, Hiroshi Kiyotake's goal giving them a 1-0 win.

In a very open game, the hosts caught Hoffenheim on the counter just before the half hour mark and Kiyotake was on hand to punish them as he rifled a low shot into the far corner from a tight angle.

The visitors had a whole host of chances throughout the afternoon, but they struggled to hit the target with these in a toothless attacking display, and that proved to be their downfall as they fell to a narrow defeat.

Downed hosts down the visitors

Surprisingly, it was the already relegated Hannover who dominated the early exchanges of the match. Chances for Salif Sané, Fynn Arkenberg and Felix Klaus all presented themselves in the first few minutes but none were taken.

Dominance would not stay with either side in this match, despite Hoffenheim getting a hold on things after their opponents' bright start. Both enjoyed brief spells of possession between them, exchanging these positive periods in a very open game. The visitors created the better chances with the ball, meanwhile, with Eugen Polanski's half-volley flying inches wide, moments after Mark Uth tested Ron-Robert Zieler and brought a smart save out of him.

Hannover were the ones to open the scoring though, with Kiyotake arrowing home an effort just before the half hour mark. Noah-Joel Sarenren-Bazee created it, racing down the right wing on the counter and drilling a cut-back towards Artur Sobiech. The forward unselfishly dummied for his Japanese teammate, who arrived in good time to do the rest with a cool finish that just about beat a defender on the line.

This goal produced a good response out of Hoffenheim, who created a flurry of openings. Kevin Volland and Andrej Kramaric both failed to hit the target with their opportunities though, while Nadiem Amiri saw a long-range effort saved with ease. 

The hosts were relatively comfortable in their lead as Kiyotake constantly threatened to extend it - either by himself or by creating the chance for a teammate to do so - and went into half time deserving to be ahead.

Hoffenheim are still fighting for survival after this defeat. (Photo: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim)
Hoffenheim are still fighting for survival after this defeat. (Photo: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim)

Lacklustre Hoffenheim struggle to carve out an equaliser

Hoffenheim were seriously lacking some creativity to muster up a response in the game, despite setting up camp in Hannover's half for the majority of the second half.

Half time change Kevin Kuranyi came close to getting them back into the game just past the hour when he raced onto a through ball and directly at the home goal, but Sané got across brilliantly to thwart him at the last second.

Hannover did have their moments in the second half too, and looked significantly more dangerous on the attack even though these didn't come as frequently as Hoffenheim's.

Sarenren-Bazee forced a superb save out of Oliver Baumann just before the 70 minute mark in one of their most potent moves, with the 'keeper getting down at his near post to push away a fizzing shot that had taken a nick off of Jeremy Toljan on it's way to the target.

However, this was as exciting as it got in a rather dull second period as the game slowly moved towards full time. Hoffenheim couldn't produce a good enough final ball, or string many passes together at all, in the final third, while Hannover didn't need to do much as they comfortably protected their lead.

Toljan did rattle the crossbar in stoppage time with a drive from at least 30 yards out, but the visitors didn't deserve a share of the points in truth.

Nonetheless, it's still all too late for the home side, who are just doing damage to other team's causes now with them already on their way to the 2. Bundesliga.