FRANKFURT – Japanese striker Naohiro Takahara continued his rich vein of form with his ninth league goal of the season as Eintracht Frankfurt boosted its survival hopes with a 2-0 win at home to Hannover 96 on Saturday.
Frankfurt began the day second from bottom but Takahara put the home side in front after 58 minutes and Michael Thurk made the points safe to lift the team out of the drop zone and into 14th place in the table.
Riding high after a double in Frankfurt’s 3-0 German Cup quarterfinal win over Kickers Offenbach on Tuesday, Takahara made a lively start and his header set up Alexander Meier, who had his effort blocked.
Takahara brought a smart save out of Robert Enke and was denied again on the half hour mark by the Hannover keeper.
The “Sushi Bomber’s” efforts were finally rewarded when he bundled home at the far post before Thurk sealed the win with a long-range drive.
One more league goal will see Takahara match the highest number of goals scored in a single season by a Japanese player in European top-flight soccer.
Former Japan midfield star Hidetoshi Nakata, who retired from the game after last summer’s World Cup finals, holds the record of 10 goals he scored for Italian club Perugia in the 1998-1999 season.
Elsewhere, Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura, the Scottish Premier League Player of the Month for February, played with a protective cast on his broken left hand but delivered a sparkling performance and had a hand in the second goal as the Hoops edged closer to the SPL title with a 2-1 win at home to Dunfermline.
In the Austrian first division, Alex Santos played in Salzburg’s 1-0 win away to Superfund Pasching but Tsuneyasu Miyamoto did not take part as the leaders opened up a 16-point lead over Superfund.
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