Hannover draw ends Twente challenge

Hannover 96 0-0 FC Twente The stalemate in Germany kept the hosts top of Group L but, combined with Levante UD winning elsewhere, curtailed Twente's hopes of progress.

Hannover's Adrian Nikci takes on Joey Pelupessy of Twente
Hannover's Adrian Nikci takes on Joey Pelupessy of Twente ©Getty Images

Hannover 96 and FC Twente fought out a 0-0 draw at the Hannover Arena – a result that did far more for the home team than it did for the Dutch title chasers, now eliminated from the UEFA Europa League.

If the result of a point apiece sufficed to keep Hannover top of Group L, the stalemate also made winless Twente's struggles in the section terminal. For the first time, in the competition's fourth season, the Enschede outfit will not figure in the last 32.

The opening exchanges done with, the game settled into a rhythm more suited to Twente than to a Hannover side already qualified for the knockout rounds. If the hosts were content to sit back, Steve McClaren's Twente – four points behind second-placed Levante UD at kick-off – needed a better result than the 2-2 draw between these clubs in the Netherlands on matchday one. Hence the visitors' positivity and pressing which almost paid dividends when Willem Janssen ruffled the side netting.

Mirko Slomka's team did catch a sight of goal late in the first period as Jan Schlaudraff fired wide after Rasmus Bengtsson only half-cleared an Adrian Nikci cutback. When Felipe Gutiérrez, at the other end, drifted his attempt wide on the stroke of half-time, it was confirmation that Twente's endeavours had come to nought.

Didier Ya Konan, introduced up front for the side sixth in the Bundesliga, nearly had an impact but dragged his effort off target. He also had a free header repelled by Sander Boschker. Events were definitely contriving against Twente, though: Levante's two-goal advantage at Helsingborgs IF was proving enough to end the Eredivisie club's hopes of catching their Spanish rivals.

Nonetheless, Twente continued to chase the breakthrough as a hitherto tight contest became stretched – with substitute Luc Castaignos boosting their attacking options. Hannover keeper Ron-Robert Zieler saved well from Janssen and Dušan Tadić. However, when Hannover counterattacked late on, Bengtsson – the last defender – brought down Artur Sobiech and was sent off. For Twente, the game was finally up.