Hanover sink Stuttgart to go second

BERLIN - Didier Ya Konan struck twice to steer Hanover 96 to a 2-1 win over VfB Stuttgart and into second place in the Bundesliga on Friday as their opponents sunk deeper into trouble.

The Ivorian notched his ninth goal of the season only two minutes after Georg Niedermeier had levelled for troubled Stuttgart in the 74th minute for Hanover's fifth straight win.

Ya Konan had also given them a deserved 35th minute lead after Hanover missed several good chances in the early stages.

"It is the 31 points that matter and not the second place," said Hanover coach Mirko Slomka.

"To be able to turn the game after the equaliser was very good. The team believes in itself, it is tied together and not affected by anything from the outside," he said.

Stuttgart, whose coach Jens Keller was already under immense pressure before the game, are anchored in 16th place in the 18-team table with just 12 points.

Keller had taken over from Swiss Christian Gross in October but has failed to turn things with Stuttgart bosses saying this week they would meet on Saturday to discuss the situation.

Former Hamburg SV coach Bruno Labbadia has been reported to be in talks with Stuttgart.

"I am deeply disappointed by the team, especially in the first half," said Keller, whose team, however, top their Europa League group.

"If we play like we played today there is no need to look higher up the table. We have to stop thinking we are better than our place in the standings."

"As for my position, this is not something I think about. I believe I am doing a good job but I cannot influence other things," he said.