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Hannover banish group stage demons in Liege

R. Standard de Liège 2-2 Hannover 96
Beaten 2-0 by Standard in the group stage, the visitors came from behind and survived some late scares to emerge on level terms.

Hannover banish group stage demons in Liege
Hannover banish group stage demons in Liege ©UEFA.com

In-form Mame Diouf struck a second-half equaliser to hand Hannover 96 the edge in their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie against R. Standard de Liège.

Standard remain unbeaten in the competition this season, but have work to do in next week's second leg after conceding at home for the first time this campaign. Lars Stindl's 22nd-minute penalty for the visitors came against the run of play, and was quickly cancelled out by Yoni Buyens and Mohamed Tchite, who put Standard in front with two quick goals. However, Diouf's fourth strike in eight fixtures since his January move to Germany means Hannover will be confident of progressing next Thursday.

They had a testing start to the match, though, Gohi Bi Cyriac's pace a particular concern, and looked poised to endure an evening as uncomfortable as their 2-0 defeat here in the group stage. A jet-heeled burst into the box from Konstantin Rausch brought relief, however, as he provoked a reckless lunge from Kanu. From the spot, Stindl comfortably ended Standard's previously pristine defensive record in the competition.

Undeservedly behind, José Riga's side swiftly set about redressing the balance, and then almost immediately tipped it in their favour. A blistering counterattack ended with Buyens delightfully turning home a Tchite cross, before the provider turned finisher when he brilliantly headed in a Serge Gakpe corner.

The interval halted the hosts' momentum, and the visitors duly reasserted themselves once more in the second half. Two Stindl efforts from distance came close to bringing an equaliser, before the Hannover midfielder sprinted forward with intent. Though he was unable to cross, the ball broke for Didier Konan Ya to square for the unmarked Diouf, who could not miss. With time running out, Kanu flicked on a Sébastien Pocognoli free-kick, but Ron-Robert Zieler instinctively stuck out a hand.

Zieler breathed another sigh of relief even late on when Felipe's header was parried into the path of Tchite, who somehow missed the target with the goal gaping.

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