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FC St. Pauli defeated league rivals Hannover 2-0 in a friendly on Friday afternoon. It was a lively encounter from the outset with several chances for both teams in the first period. Luca Zander gave his side a 51st minute lead before Oladapo Afolayan added a second just before the end to complete a deserved victory.

As announced, head coach Fabian Hürzeler fielded a team consisting mainly of players who have had little game time recently for the friendly against league rivals Hannover 96 (full coverage linked above, kick-off at minute 43:12). Lukas Daschner (ill) and Marcel Beifus (wisdom teeth) missed out along with the familiar long-term absentees and those players away on international duty. Hannover coach Stefan Leitl, in contrast, opted to start with several first-team regulars.

Both teams went at it hammer and tongues from the off at the Edmund Plambeck Stadium in Norderstedt, pushing forward constantly. The Boys in Brown fashioned the first chance for Johannes Eggestein in the sixth minute, but his effort from just inside the box was blocked by Luka Krajnc. Moments later, Phil Neumann produced a sliding tackle to deny David Otto. Hannover hit back in the 15th minute when the Hürzeler XI lost possession in their own half and Neumann hit the ball upfield to Maximilian Beier. With only Sascha Burchert to beat, he chipped the ball wide of the right-hand upright. Back at the other end, Elias Saad had his own opportunity to open the scoring. Otto cleverly dummied Luca Zander's low ball forward, but Saad shot straight at Leo Weinkauf in the Hannover goal.

Beier had another decent opportunity to score on 21 when played in by Cedric Teuchert's through ball, and this time his shot from a similar distance struck the crossbar. The game ebbed and flowed and Otto fired wide left after receiving a pass from Adam Dźwigała. Soon after, the Boys in Brown had a double chance to take the lead. First, Zander hit a lovely diagonal ball to Saad, who burst into the penalty area from the left and saw a shot parried by Weinkauf and the rebound fall at of the feet of Ritzka. His shot from seven metres was heading for the bottom left corner, but the Hannover keeper was on hand again to make the save. Nine minutes later, Saad received the ball in the left channel and unloaded from the edge of the box and his effort flew just past the angle. The half ended with a shock when Burchert and Medić collided so heavily following a long ball from the visitors that Medić had to be withdrawn.

Elias Saad under challenge from Hannover's Phil Neumann

Elias Saad under challenge from Hannover's Phil Neumann

Hürzeler made one change for the second half, introducing Maurides for Otto. Leitl made three changes for the visitors. The pattern remained the same, though, with both teams looking to get forward. And in the 51st minute, the Boys in Brown took the lead following a corner. The ball had twice been cleared before Ritzka delivered into the middle from the left. It was only half-cleared, however, and the ball was drilled back towards goal first time by Afeez Aremu, whose effort was helped over the line by Zander from close range. There were appeals for offside from Hannover, but referee Felix Bickel allowed the goal to stand.

Both coaches made further changes just after the hour, Marcel Hartel, Oladapo Afolayan and Bennet Winter coming on for Carlo Boukhalfa, Afeez Aremu and Elias Saad. Then, the chances began to dry up for both sides compared with the first half. The Boys in Brown kept things tight at the back gave very little away. That changed on 68 when Burchert misplaced a pass to Sebastian Ernst, who went for goal from inside the area. Fortunately, Burchert atoned for his error and prevented an equaliser.

Hürzeler then threw on youngsters Bennet Winter and Oluwaseun Ogbemudia for goalscorer Luca Zander and Johannes Eggestein on 79. And Winter had a decisive hand in the second goal, collecting a pass from Jannes Wieckhoff and crossing into the penalty area for Oladapo Afolayan to tap in. That was the final moment of note in a game deservedly won by the Boys in Brown.

"The first half was very, very good," said head coach Fabian Hürzeler after the game. “We were bold and dominated the game. We played out well from the back and created chances to score, which was how I envisaged it would be. Unfortunately, we failed to get our reward, as we had good opportunities to take the lead. Hannover had some good chances to break when we lost the ball, but otherwise we gave virtually nothing away. In the second half, we gave the ball away too often, which interrupted the flow of the game, but the lads worked really well off the ball, allowed very few chances from open play, and constantly supported each other when we lost possession. It was important to see that the lads have internalised the way we want to play football. All in all, it was a decent runout.”

FC St. Pauli

Burchert - Zander (Ogbemudia 79'), Dźwigała, Medić (Dahaba 43') - Wieckhoff, Aremu (Hartel 63'), Boukhalfa (Roggow 63'), Ritzka - Eggestein (Winter 79'), Otto (Maurides 46'), Saad (Afolayan 63')

Head coach: Fabian Hürzeler


Hannover 96

Weinkauf - Neumann (Arrey Mbi 63'), Börner, Krajnc (Lührs 46') - Muroya (Momuluh 55'), Besuschkow (Kunze 46'), Leopold (Schaub 63'), Köhn (Celebi 55') - Beier (Ernst 46'), Nielsen (Weydandt 63'), Teuchert (Proud 63')

Head coach: Stefan Leitl


Goals: 1-0 Zander (51'), 2-0 Afolayan (87')

Yellow cards: Afolayan

Referee: Felix Bickel (Wolfsburg)


Photos: FC St. Pauli