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Ten-man Hannover outlast Levante

Hannover 96 2-1 Levante UD
After the sides swapped first-half penalties, Didier Ya Konan struck in the 49th minute and the ten-man hosts held on to take the Group L lead.

Ten-man Hannover outlast Levante
Ten-man Hannover outlast Levante ©UEFA.com

Hannover 96 came from behind for the second match in succession to end Levante UD's 100% record in European competition and leapfrog the Spanish side into pole position in Group L.

With goalscoring opportunities at a premium in a slow start, the first half turned into a tale of two penalties. Karim Haggui pulled down Fanis Gekas, resulting in a red card for the Hannover defender, and Míchel scored his first goal in European competition to give Levante the lead. Szabolcs Huszti restored parity after Vicente Iborra had handled in the box, and Didier Ya Konan's opportunistic strike at the start of the second half proved enough to give Hannover all three points.

Mirko Slomka's side had the better of the early exchanges, with half-chances for Ya Konan and Huszti, but it was the Spanish Liga visitors who broke the deadlock after ten minutes. Gekas wriggled free in the Hannover box and Haggui tugged the Greek forward's arm. Míchel coolly converted from the resulting penalty as Haggui trudged towards the dressing room.

Levante appeared to sit back on their lead and the home side drew level in the 21st minute, again from the spot. This time Huszti stepped neatly inside Iborra causing the wrong-footed Spaniard to slip and handle the ball as he went to ground. Hungarian playmaker Huszti stepped up himself to sweep the ball past goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

With the second half barely four minutes old, Ya Konan, a constant menace to the Levante rearguard, latched on to Lars Stindl's threaded pass to give Die Roten the lead. Ron-Robert Zieler then maintained his side's narrow advantage when he got down smartly to turn a Gekas header round the post. The visitors failed to threaten again and, as both teams tired, Hannover held on to stretch their unbeaten European run to six matches this term.