Grp L: Levante fail to unseat Hannover

Hannover secured first place in Group L of the Europa League as they held on to claim an away draw at Levante.

Papakouly Diop of Levante

The hosts needed a victory to overhaul the Bundesliga side at the top of the group, but had a mountain to climb after just 26 minutes as goals from Lars Stindl and Didier Ya Konan put Hannover in a commanding position.

Hannover could have been even further in front by half-time had it not been for some sensational goalkeeping by Keylor Navas, but Levante were given a lifeline four minutes after the break when Angel volleyed home from Vicente Iborra's knockdown.

However, Juan Ignacio Martinez's men couldn't find the second goal they really needed to make the Germans sweat until deep into stoppage time when Iborra rose highest to head Jose Barkero's corner into the bottom corner.

The pattern of the game could have been very much different though had Michel put the hosts in front when he was clean through on 13 minutes, but Ron-Robert Zieler made a good save with his legs and within five minutes Hannover had gone in front.

Sergio Pinto freed Stindl inside the area and after his initial cross rebounded off Hector Rodas, he smashed the ball past Navas from close range.

Eight minutes later it was 2-0 as this time Stindl turned provider as he played in Ya Konan and he produced a perfect lob over Navas to register his third European goal of the season.

Navas then produced two great saves within 60 seconds to turn away headers from Mame Biram Diouf that seemed destined for the net and his team-mates seemed to take heart from that as they came out a completely different side in the second half.

Angel produced a well-controlled volley low to Zieler's right to half the arrears moments after the restart and Michel should have levelled with 17 minutes remaining but Zieler made a brave save at the forward's feet with others desperately waiting for a pass to knock the ball into the unguarded net.

Eventually the Spaniards did get the equalising goal their second-half effort deserved as Iborra powered home a header from Barkero's cross but it was too, little too late as that was the last action of the match and Levante had to make do with progress as runners-up in their first ever European campaign.



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