BERLIN (AP) — Eintracht Braunschweig grabbed a lifeline in its fight against Bundesliga relegation with a 3-0 win over rival Hannover in the Lower Saxony derby on Sunday.
"They were three very important points from a game of high emotions," Braunschweig coach Thorsten Lieberknecht said. "We've shown that we want to hang on like limpets (in the Bundesliga)." Domi Kumbela got the home side off to a good start in the 14th, scoring after Hannover goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler could only parry Ken Reichel's cross to his feet.
Havard Nielsen made it 2-0 with a fine finish inside the far post in the 21st, and Hannover's fate was effectively sealed when Andre Hoffmann was sent off for kicking Mirko Boland from behind in the 62nd.
Hannover supporters responded by calling for the club's management to step down. Hannover president Martin Kind had already described his side's performance as "unacceptable" during the halftime break.
Jan Hochscheidt completed an afternoon to forget for the visiting fans by scoring in the 89th, after Orhan Ademi eluded two defenders and Karim Bellarabi laid the ball back. Braunschweig is still bottom but within touching distance of Nuremberg, Hamburger SV and Stuttgart with five games of the season remaining.
"We've simply found our way," Lieberknecht said after his side's fifth consecutive home game without defeat. "We're last, we've made up a bit on the others, but nothing more." Hannover is just two points clear of Stuttgart after four consecutive defeats with the club's management under pressure following the decision to release Mirko Slomka as coach in December.
Slomka returns with current club Hamburg next week. Sunday's late game, a 1-1 draw between mid-table sides Hertha Berlin and Hoffenheim, was overshadowed by a serious injury to Hoffenheim goalkeeper Koen Casteels.
The Belgium youth team 'keeper was stretchered off in obvious pain midway through the second half after landing badly in a challenge with Adrian Ramos for a high ball. "It looks like it's a lower leg fracture," Hoffenheim coach Markus Gisdol said.
Sami Allagui opened the scoring for Hertha in the 11th, when he eluded Jannik Vestergaard with a clever trick and then curled the ball beyond Casteels. Sloppy defending allowed Kevin Volland set up Eugen Polanski for Hoffenheim's equalizer on the half hour.
Following Casteels' injury, substitute goalkeeper Alexander Stolz made two crucial interventions in the final minutes, before his counterpart, Thomas Kraft, produced a stunning save to deny Volland from a free kick with the last kick of the game.
"We deserved the victory," said Kraft, who prevented what would have been Hertha's fifth loss in a row. Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich's record 53-game unbeaten run ended in a 1-0 loss at Augsburg on Saturday, when second-placed Borussia Dortmund came from behind to defeat Wolfsburg 2-1.