Soccer

Kiyotake, Sakai play part in Hannover triumph

Hiroshi Kiyotake and Hiroki Sakai helped bottom-side Hannover secure their first three points in seven games in the Bundesliga on Friday in their 2-0 home win over Borussia Monchengladbach, avoiding relegation in this round of fixtures.

Hannover went ahead in the 49th minute when Waldemar Anton drove in a cross from the right about 9 meters out, and the two Japanese combined for the second 11 minutes later when Kiyotake released Sakai on the right to cross first-time. Kenan Karaman could only hit the right post with his effort but Artur Sobiech followed up.

Hannover won once while losing 13 times since December, before it replaced coach Thomas Schaaf with Daniel Stendel on April 3. The team has since claimed a draw and a win, with four games remaining in the season.

“We’d been passive in game situations. There’s no way a weak team can win that way,” Sakai said. “We’ve reviewed our fundamental movements.”

Kiyotake, who suffered relegation with Nurnberg two years ago and was again mired in another survival fight last year with Hannover, paid tribute to his side’s defense which kept the first clean sheet in 13 games.

“(The win) might have come a little late but there’s still a chance. It’s a huge win,” he said.