Hannover earn late draw against Schalke
Schalke’s Lewis Holtby (2nd L) and his teamates celebrate scoring
HANNOVER, Germany ● Hannover substitute Adrian Nikci scored a late goal three minutes into his Bundesliga debut to earn his side a 2-2 draw with Schalke on Sunday.
“I’m very happy to help the team,” the Swiss youth international said. “It was a good start.”
Brazilian defender Felipe opened the scoring in the 43rd minute for Hannover, before last season’s leading scorer, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, drew the visitors level with a great individual effort in the 52nd.
Lewis Holtby put Schalke ahead 12 minutes later, only for Nikci – who had just replaced the injured Felipe – to score with his first touch of the ball with 10 minutes remaining.
“I was happy to see the team come back after it was 2-1, especially as the players still had a game in their legs from Thursday,” said Hannover coach Mirko Slomka, referring to his side’s 5-3 win at Slask Wroclaw in the first leg of their Europa League playoff. “And because Schalke were showing such dominance on the pitch.”
Hannover goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler kept Schalke at bay in a scrappy first half, with saves from Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Ciprian Marica.
Felipe was unmarked to head Christian Pander’s free kick beyond Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand.
Hannover began the second half by pushing forward, but Huntelaar – who scored 29 league goals last season – scored on a counterattack by eluding Felipe and then unleashing a fierce shot past Zieler to the bottom corner.
Only Zieler’s great reaction speed denied Holtby from making it 2-1 shortly afterward, but the 21-year-old Schalke midfielder took his second chance when Jermaine Jones crossed for him to score a rare headed goal.
Felipe’s afternoon ended prematurely when the defender was forced off with an injury picked up during a Schalke corner, but his replacement came on to slide between two Schalke defenders to meet Jan Schlaudraff’s cross and score from close range.
“We played well but weren’t rewarded for all the good chances we created,” said Schalke coach Huub Stevens.