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FC St. Pauli slipped to a one-nil defeat at Hannover 96 in front of 16,100 spectators at the HDI Arena on Saturday afternoon. Sebastian Kerk got the only goal of the game in the 39th minute.

"Never change a winning team" was the motto at Hannover 96, as Timo Schultz fielded the same eleven players who produced an excellent performance to beat Jahn Regensburg 2-0 last time out. The sole change came on the bench when Marcel Beifus was named in the first-team squad for the first time.

The game burst into life in the tenth minute when Lukas Hinterseer met a left-wing cross with his head relatively unchallenged, forcing a wonderful reflex save from Nikola Vasilj. After a brief moment of confusion in the penalty box, Guido Burgstaller claimed the ball and looked to launch a counterattack, only to be brought down by a robust challenge from Jannik Dehm. Commotion ensued, and the two players conducted a frank exchange of views before having their names taken by the referee.

As the half wore on, Timo Schultz's side found themselves doing most of the defending as the home side took charge of the proceedings. Sebastian Kerk, an early substitute for the injured Mike Frantz, had the next opportunity in the 23rd minute with a crisp drive from distance that flew wide of the right-hand upright. Hannover continued to dictate the play without creating too many chances, though that changed on 39 minutes when the ball was given away in midfield, allowing the home side to dispatch a cross into the middle to Hinterseer, who was denied from close range by Vasilj. Kerk was alive to the possibilities, however, and prodded the rebound over the line to give his side the lead.

The response came almost immediately. Finn Ole Becker knocked a lovely pass into the path of Jannes Wieckhoff, who laid the ball off for Marcel Hartel to shoot from close range, only for Ron-Robert Zieler to pull off a fine save to prevent the equaliser. And at the other end, Vasilj produced another good stop to thwart Niklas Hult when the Hannover full-back popped up in space in front of him.

Timo Schultz made one change for the second half, introducing Rico Benatelli for Simon Makienok to leave Guido Burgstaller the only man up top. The overload in midfield made itself felt in the form of more possession for the Boys in Brown in the opening stages of the half, as Hannover shifted the focus to defending their narrow lead. And despite a lack of clear-cut chances, it was a marked improvement on the first-half showing.

The St. Pauli boss swapped things round again with a double substitution in the 63rd minute, Jackson Irvine and Christopher Buchtmann entering the fray for Becker and Afeez Aremu. The change very nearly paid off within seconds, as Buchtmann forced a great save from Zieler with his first touch from the edge of the box. Hannover remained a constant threat, however, and Beier came within a whisker of getting on the end of a whipped-in ball from Kerk on 69. The alarm bells were ringing again ten minutes later when Maina shrugged off the challenge of two defenders to get a shot off. But once again it was Vasilj who conjured up a brilliant stop to keep his side in the game.

The closest the Boys in Brown came to an equaliser was in the 84th minute when substitute Jackson Irvine knocked the ball back into the danger area from a Hartel corner. Jakov Medic got his head to it, but unfortunately his effort bounced back off the crossbar. That was to prove the last action of the game and it ended in a second defeat of the season for the Schultz XI.

Hannover 96

Zieler – Dehm, Franke, Börner, Hult – Ondouna, Frantz (Kerk 8') – Maina, Ernst, Beier (Stolze 73') - Hinterseer

Head coach: Jan Zimmermann


FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Wieckhoff, Medić, Lawrence, Paqarada (Dittgen 78') – Aremu (Buchtmann 63'), Becker (Irvine 63'), Hartel, Kyereh – Burgstaller, Makienok (Benatelli 46')

Head coach: Timo Schultz


Goals: 1-0 Kerk (39')

Yellow cards: Dehm, Ondua, Ernst – Burgstaller, Aremu, Kyereh

Referee: Florian Lechner

Attendance: 16,100


Photos: Witters


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