Salomon Kalou struck a second-half equaliser to save Hertha Berlin from what would have been a damaging defeat against bottom-of-the table Hannover in the Bundesliga on Friday.
Kalou scored his 14th league goal of the season to ensure third-placed Hertha drew 2-2 and avoided suffering back-to-back defeats after their 5-0 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach last time out.
Hannover had Daniel Stendel in charge for the first time after the sacking of Thomas Schaaf following a run of 13 losses from 14 league matches and a point for Hertha is far from ideal.
Their closest rivals for a top-four spot – Gladbach, Mainz, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke – all have a chance to cut their advantage later this weekend.
The hosts took the lead within three minutes when they worked an attack down the left, with Marvin Plattenhardt’s square cross slotted home by Vedad Ibisevic, who was clattered by goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler in the act of scoring.
Manuel Schmiedebach struck against the post for Hannover before they levelled matters after 18 minutes.
A neat moved involving Schmiedebach and Hiroshi Kiyotake set up Artur Sobiech to score with a low shot.
The visitors went ahead shortly before the hour mark when substitute Kenan Karaman burst down the left and cut back for Schmiedebach to sweep in with a confident finish for his first league goal of the campaign.
But Hertha did not go down to a shock defeat, with Kalou in oceans of space at the back post to convert substitute Julian Schieber’s 72nd-minute cross, ensuring Hannover sit nine points adrift of the relegation play-off spot with five matches left to play.