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FC St. Pauli won 2-1 at Hannover 96 on Sunday afternoon in front of a 49,000 sell-out crowd at the Heinz von Heiden Arena. After Dapo Afolayan had headed his side into the lead in the 41st minute, Lars Gindorf levelled the scores on the stroke of half-time, but Johannes Eggestein put the Boys in Brown on the road to victory with another header on 65.

Head coach Fabian Hürzeler made four changes to the side that lost 4-3 at home to SV 07 Elversberg last week. Hauke Wahl, back from his one-match ban, and Aljoscha Kemlein came in for the injured Philipp Treu and Eric Smith, with Connor Metcalfe dropping back from his customary position on the wing to take on Treu's more defensive role. Adam Dźwigała began on the bench, his place in the backline going to Austrian defender David Nemeth on his first start since the scoreless draw against Magdeburg in Round 4. Finally, Dapo Afolayan got the nod over Elias Saad. The game came around too early for Lars Ritzka, who resumed running work during the week, allowing winter signing Erik Ahlstrand to celebrate his first appearance in the squad.

Hannover boss made three adjustments to his side after the goalless draw in the Lower Saxony derby at Eintracht Braunschweig, Bright Arrey-Mbi, Max Christiansen and Cedric Teuchert making way for Brooklyn Eze, Enzo Leopold and the 22-year-old forward Lars Gindorf, who was making his first league start for the home side after contributing 21 goals and four assists in 22 games for the second team in the fourth-tier Regionalliga Nord this season.

The home side threatened for the first just three minutes in when Sei Muroya broke down the right and forced Niko Vasilj into a decent save with his foot. Leitl's charges continued to edge the opening quarter of an hour with an effective pressing game that yielded several opportunities in transition, and the Boys in Brown did well to relieve the pressure with their own spells of possession football. Debutant Gindorf tested Vasilj with a long-range effort from 25 metres before Dapo Afolayan had the first chance at the other end, latching on to a fine through ball from Wahl but firing just wide of the far post from a tight angle. 

Vasilj was in the action again on the half-hour, diving low to his right to defuse a Phil Neumann effort following a free-kick and then reacting well to keep out an inswinging corner from Louis Schaub at the near post. The Hürzeler XI fashioned their best moment of the half to that point eight minutes before the interval when a pinpoint crossfield ball found Manolis Saliakas, who whipped in a cross to the back post for the advancing Marcel Hartel to direct a shot just over the bar – a huge chance that appeared to have an energising effect because the ball was soon nestling in the back of the Hannover net. Hartel and Metcalfe combined their way to edge of the box on the left-hand side and the Australian's centre was headed home by Afolayan to the delight of the travelling contingent. The joy proved short-lived, however, as the lead was to last just four minutes. A long throw into a crowded goalmouth found its way to Gindorf, who stabbed the ball home from close range to notch his first league goal moments before referee Deniz Aytekin blew for half-time.

Niko Vasilj was repeatedly called into action in the first half.

Niko Vasilj was repeatedly called into action in the first half.

Both coaches went with the same 11 players for the second period and the home side again made the better start, testing Vasilj with balls into the box without ever really threatening. Instead, it was the Boys in Brown who began to push forward with a string of neat passing moves and with 56 minutes gone Ron-Robert Zieler was forced to punch a Hartel free-kick out for a corner. From the resulting set play, the 2014 World Cup-winner got down quickly to defuse a powerful low drive from Metcalfe and it remained all-square.

That changed on the hour when the Hürzeler XI restored their advantage with another header. Hartel's corner found the unmarked Johannes Eggestein, and though Zieler got his hands to the ball, he could not prevent it from crossing the line. Back in front, the Boys in Brown looked far more assured on the ball and would have gone 3-1 up in the 72nd minute were it not for Neumann's acrobatic clearance to keep out Kemlein's header.

Hannover went for broke in the closing stages, throwing on anyone resembling an attacker, but it was Hürzeler's charges who were closer to adding to their tally – until the 83rd minute at least, when substitute Cedric Teuchert met a headed clearance by Nemeth on the volley and Vasilj prevented the equaliser with a brilliant save. The home side rallied again, with the Boys in Brown waiting for the one opportunity to put the game to bed, and with some solid defending the visitors hung on to secure three vital points.

Hannover 96

Zieler - Neumann, Halstenberg, Eze (Teucher 80') - Muroya, Leopold, Kunze (Oudenne 80'), Dehm - Schaub (Ernst 73') - Tresoldi (Ndikom 73'), Gindorf

Head coach: Stefan Leitl


FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Nemeth, Wahl, Mets - Saliakas, Kemlein, Irvine, Metcalfe - Hartel (Saad 90'+1), Eggestein (Amenyido 90'), Afolayan (Dźwigała 78')

Head coach: Fabian Hürzeler


Goals: 0-1 Afolayan (41'), 1-1 Gindorf (45'), 1-2 Eggestein (65')

Yellow cards: Afolayan, Irvine, Amenyido

Referee: Deniz Aytekin (Oberasbach)

Attendance: 49,000 (sold out)


Photos: FC St. Pauli