Hannover hang on to beat Stuttgart
Christian Pander set up two goals and scored one as Hannover defeated Stuttgart 4-2 at home to remain firmly in the running for the European spots.
Hannover led 2-0 at the break through goals from Karim Haggui and Mame Biram Diouf, and the hosts then doubled that advantage with further strikes from Pander and Lars Stindl after the break.
Stuttgart threatened to set up a grandstand finish with two quick goals from Martin Harnik and Shinji Okazaki, but they could not make any further in-roads in the final ten minutes as Hannover, who had not scored more than one goal in their previous nine Bundesliga matches, held on for the win.
Hannover, who are now unbeaten in nine matches, nearly grabbed the lead in the 20th minute but Diouf's header from a corner went just inches over. Haggui proved more precise with his header five minutes later, though, as he put his side 1-0 up after enjoying a clear run at Pander's corner.
Stuttgart, with just one win in their previous eight games, finally produced a chance on the counter-attack in the 27th minute, but were unable to capitalise as Hannover goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler stopped Harnik's one-on-one attempt.
Another Pander corner in the 32nd minute then helped his side go two goals up as the ball ended up in the Stuttgart net as Diouf deflected it in off his left shoulder. Pander got on the scoresheet himself in the 46th minute, the goal once again stemming from a corner, as the ball landed at the feet of the defender, who blasted just inside the far post.
Stuttgart offered little resistance and Hannover increased their lead to 4-0 in the 73rd minute after the visitors failed four times to clear the ball and Manuel Schmiedebach headed to Stindl, who blasted a left-footed shot inside the near post.
Stuttgart managed to pull a goal back in the 75th minute with Vedad Ibisevic playing a through ball to Harnik, who struck a shot under the arms of keeper Zieler from the right side. The away side then made it 4-2 with 11 minutes remaining as Cacau headed to Okazaki, who scored a brilliant overhead kick.
Zieler made a great save from Ibisevic's close-range effort in the 83rd minute as Stuttgart sought another goal but that would be as close as the visitors would get as Hannover claimed the points.