Hannover 96 coach Mirko Slomka praised his side’s battling qualities after their 2-1 win over Levante in the Europa League on Thursday.
Slomka’s team came from 1-0 down to secure the victory in their Group L clash on Thursday and the result was all the more impressive given Hannover had to play over 80 minutes with 10 men following Karim Haggui’s red card.
“Obviously, the early red card for Karim Haggui was a real blow for us. If I may value this situation I would say it was a penalty but should only have been a yellow card,” Slomka said.
“But I am delighted with how my team reacted to that setback and with a lot of will in putting together an energetic performance.
“For nearly 90 minutes plus additional time we worked very hard, and never stopped playing our football and launching counter attacks.
“So I have to say that the whole team deserves a lot of credit.
“It has been a very intense performance by the whole team, and it has been our goal to win this match here and to get the three points.”
Hannover move to the top of the group with four points from their opening two games, a position which Slomka hopes they can maintain.
“To lead the group now is an added bonus,” Slomka said.
“Before this game we hoped to beat Levante and lead the group and so it has turned out that way.
“I never thought about Twente not winning their match today (against Helsingborgs), maybe that is a little surprising in this group.
“For us, (so far) it has been an important win at home and also an important point away. Now we have to stay at the top of the group in the next game. Hopefully we won’t give up that position.”
Levante counterpart Juan Ignacio Martinez was left to rue his side’s misfortune.
Both sides traded penalties in a tight first half until Didier Ya Konan’s 49th-minute strike gave the hosts the win.
Martinez felt that his Levante side had done enough to leave the AWD Arena with at least a point.
“I don’t want to make excuses for anything, because I am not the kind of person who makes an excuse,” he said.
“But Hannover were effective, which showed because they beat us with 10 men and so we have to congratulate them.
“But given our chances, I think we deserved more. Anyway, the score is the score.”