In front of 48,500 fans, Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Hannover 96 at the Commerzbank Arena 1-0 on the back of a Danny de Costa header to keep Frankfurt in the running for the final Champions League spot in the German Bundesliga.
Da Costa’s only goal of the match, came in the 39th minute off a free header in a physical (and sometimes controversial) match, that saw five yellow cards between the two clubs and a penalty, that was originally awarded to Hannover, waved off via video replay.
“In the end it was a hard-fought win in a game played at a reasonable level,” Frankfurt manager Niko Krovac said of the match. “We worked hard to get the result.”
With the win, the Reds from Frankfurt move to 42 points, one behind second place Shalke, who also won on Saturday, and are tied with Dortmund. Hannover 96 remain in 10th place in the Bundesliga with 32 points.
From the start, Frankfurt set the pace of the match and had Hannover on the ropes, with Hannover chasing up early and often. Frankfurt was looking like they would be the first score, then did on a corner.
The ball was crossed in and was broken up on the initial corner, but Eintracht’s midfielder Jonathan de Guzman put the ball back into the box, where da Costa, who did not have a defender around him, put it into the bottom left of the net and gave the Reds their 1-0 lead in the 39th minute and the midfielder’s first tally of the year.
Frankfurt consistently had Hannover in worries, since Frankfurt’s counter attack worked well, but were not able to add an insurance goal to their name.
Hannover led possession (51:49), but Frankfurt had the advantage on corners (5:1) and shots (7:4). Frankfurt also had more yellow cards (3:2), but it was the first Hannover yellow card that created the controversy.
“It was a good fight for our team today,” Eintracht defender and U.S. international Timothy Chandler said of the defensive performance. “The atmosphere from our fans was very positive and helped us get the three points we needed and it’s a good start to our next match in Dortmund.”
As for the penalty, with Hannover attacking, Milko Albornos made a quick move into the box, where an Eintracht’s goal scorer da Costa looked to have possibly fouled the midfielder in the box. Referee Marco Fritz pointed at the spot right away for the penalty kick, but after considerable consternation from the Eintracht players, Fritz went to the video replay on the sidelines. After just a few minutes delay, he determined that there was not a foul and the issued a yellow card for the simulation to the Chilean.
That seemed to really hurt Hannover, who was struggling to create solid chances, and Eintracht went on to score the game-winner a few minutes later.
When speaking with Hannover manager André Breitenreiter after the match, and asked about if replay is good for the game, he simply replied, “Yes, it’s good for the game.”
With the match, Frankfurt has made their left back Chandler even more of a legend, born in Frankfurt, the American has now played 90 matches for his hometown club and will soon hit the 100-mark. When Chandler joined the team in 2014, they were just in their second year at the top tier of German football, after returning to the 2.Bundesliga. But with Chandler’s defensive play, the Reds have not dropped down and have an exciting prospect to the end of this year.
“We have a lot of new players again this season,” Chandler said. “I think we have a great team and every day we have a hard training, the team is like one big family. It’s unbelievable the support we have from the home fans. Even the players that come in from different leagues do not experience what we have. I think our fans are one of the best fans in the league.”
With week 25 in the books and only nine matches remaining, both clubs compete in their battles for the end of the season. Net week Hannover return home for their match with Ausburg at the HDI Arena, as Eintracht Frankfurt take to the road and meet Borussia Dortmund, for the pole position in the battle for the last Champions League spot.
Even though the next match is on the road, Chandler always has special motivation in his play.
“Every game I come here and compete for these fans, it’s a great thing to play in the Bundesliga.”