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FC St. Pauli beat Hannover 2-0 in the first home game of the year on Sunday in front of 29,456 fans at the Millerntor. Lukas Daschner and Connor Metcalfe fired the Boys in Brown into a deserved half-time lead, and once Hannover defender Phil Neumann had been sent off for a second bookable offence on 61, the Hürzeler XI saw the game out to secure their first home win over the visitors since 1994.

Head coach Fabian Hürzeler made two changes to the side that won 1-0 at FC Nürnberg last time out. Fit-again Eric Smith returned to the back three in place of the ailing Adam Dźwigała, while new signing Oladapo Afolayan got the nod over David Otto. Hannover boss Stefan Leitl, in contrast, made four adjustments to the team that lost 3-1 at home to FC Kaiserslautern, Bright Arrey-Mbi, Sebastian Ernst, Enzo Leopold and Maximilian Beier all coming in for Luka Krajnc, Max Besuschkow, Nicolo Tresoldi and Cedric Teuchert.

Both teams started brightly despite a light sprinkling of snow and temperatures around the freezing point. Hannover threatened almost immediately through the lightning-quick Maximilian Beier, and Jakov Medić had his work cut out to stop him in the penalty box. After a quick review by VAR, the challenge was adjudged to be a fair one. At the other end, Manolis Saliakas stretched to meet a Leart Paqarada cross, but couldn’t direct his header on target. In the ensuing period, neither side was able to find a way through the compact opposition defence.

With 14 minutes on the clock, the Boys in Brown had an excellent opportunity to open the scoring when Karol Mets whacked a low ball upfield to Lukas Daschner, whose flick-on diverted it into the path of Marcel Hartel. The midfielder beat Ron-Robert Zieler with his shot, only to see the ball fly a whisker past the left-hand upright. Hannover’s Julian Börner then smashed the ball over the top from a free-kick when looking favourite to score. The ball did find the net at the other end a few minutes later, however. Eric Smith slid in to knock the ball to Oladapo Afolayan, who switched on the turbo before pulling the trigger from outside the box. Zieler just about managed to parry the shot and Daschner was the quickest to react, directing the ball into the net to send the home crowd into raptures.

The Hürzeler had initially struggled to deal with Hannover’s long-ball game but were in the ascendency now. A throw-in from the left initiated a crossfield pass from the left to Saliakas, who fed Connor Metcalfe near the corner of the penalty area, and the Australian curled a wonderful filigree effort into the top corner. The flag went up straightaway, but after a two-minute VAR review, referee Timo Gerach awarded the goal because Hannover’s Phil Neumann was just keeping Metcalfe onside.

That sparked little response from the visitors and in fact the Boys in Brown could have made it three in the 37th minute through Daschner after Hartel had run into traffic in the box. The ball came to the unmarked midfielder, but he got underneath the shot and cleared the crossbar by some distance. Then, in time added on, Hartel rolled a shot just wide from the edge of the area, ensuring it remained 2-0 at the break.

Oladapo Afolayan and goalscorer Lukas Daschner celebrate the opener in front of the South Stand.

Oladapo Afolayan and goalscorer Lukas Daschner celebrate the opener in front of the South Stand.

Both teams emerged unchanged for the second half. Hannover stepped up their attacking efforts and soon created chances for Sei Muroya and Beier. Saliakas was alert to the danger, however, and first blocked Muroya’s shot before sliding in to clear with Beier shaping to shoot. Medić then got his head in the way of a Håvard Nielsen cross that was intended for Beier in the box. The resulting corner eventually found its way to Arrey-Mbi, who headed well over from just four metres out.

At the other end, Metcalfe came within a whisker of scoring with a carbon copy of his first-half effort after collecting the ball from Afolayan. The ball was heading for the top corner until Neumann got his head in the way to send it narrowly off target. Hannover were then reduced to ten men when Neumann was tempted into a foul by the neat footwork of Afolayan and was shown a second yellow card followed by a red. Six minutes later, Medić almost made it three from a Paqarada corner. His bullet header looked to be going in until it struck Daschner, who was unable to get out of the way in time. A wonderful move then fashioned an opportunity for Daschner, but he didn’t connect properly, and the ball trundled towards Zieler in the Hannover goal. Hürzeler then made his first change of the afternoon, introducing David Otto for Afolayan, who left the field to a warm round of applause from the home crowd.

Three minutes later the fans were celebrating again when Metcalfe dispatched a perfectly weighted ball in from the right for Daschner to head home, only for the goal to be ruled out following a VAR review because the Australian was in an offside position. Hannover remained largely anonymous up front from then on, only rarely penetrating the home defence. And though the Boys in Brown squandered a number of chances in the closing minutes, they kept things tight at the back to make it two wins out of two since the restart following last week’s success at Nürnberg. The victory also ended the home drought against the Lower Saxony outfit, it being the first three-point haul against them at the Millerntor since April 1994.

FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Medić, Smith, Mets - Saliakas, Hartel, Irvine, Paqarada - Afolayan (Otto 71’), Daschner (Fazliji 90’), Metcalfe (Eggestein 82’)

Head coach: Fabian Hürzeler


Hannover 96

Zieler - Neumann, Börner, Arrey-Mbi - Muroya (Schaub 87’), Kunze, Leopold (Besuschkow 87’), Köhn - Ernst (Dehm 71’) - Nielsen (Kerk 87’), Beier (Weydandt 79’)

Head coach: Stefan Leitl


Goals: 1-0 Daschner (17’), 2-0 Metcalfe (27’)

Yellow cards: Mets – Neumann

Red card (second yellow): Neumann (persistent foul play 61’)

Referee: Timo Gerach (Landau)

Attendance: 29,456 (sold out)