Hannover 96: Zieler, Sakai, Sane, Prib, Schmiedebach, Klaus (Saint-Maximin ‘53), Schulz (Hoffmann ‘69), Felipe, Karaman, Sorg (Albornoz ‘46), Erdinc
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones, Kaboul (O’Shea ‘55), Coates, van Aanholt, Cattermole (Giaccherini ‘55), Rodwell, Larsson, Johnson, Lens, Defoe. Subs not used: Mannone, Bridcutt, Matthews, Graham, Watmore
Resplendent in their new funky green change kit and sporting a number of summer signings, a buoyant Sunderland side competed their 2015 pre-season programme with a friendly match at the Niedersachsenstadion (HDI Arena) in the northern German industrial city of Hannover with a narrow one-nil win.
A few hundred die-hard Mackems made the journey to a ground that had hosted games in the 2006 World Cup nine years earlier, and made themselves heard amongst the 10,200 people assembled in the 49,000 seater bowl to see the Lads take on Hannover 96, managed by ex-Manchester City player German international Michael Frontzeck.
The game was notable for a debut appearance from Jermain Lens and a first start for Younès Kaboul, both of whom had been recruited by retuning manager Dick Advocaat after his decision to reverse his retirement and continue in the Sunderland hot seat.
The experienced Kaboul, who had signed a four-year deal at the Stadium of Light following is transfer from Tottenham Hotspur, had been brought in to sure-up Sunderland’s defence after we narrowly avoided relegation, and started alongside fellow new signing Sebastián Coates at the centre of defence.
This match was, to date, the one and only time that the Black Cats have faced off against the undoubted talent of one Allan Saint-Maximin, who was making his debut after being loaned to Die Roten immediately after his transfer from St Ètienne to AS Monaco earlier that summer. The 18-year-old would make an immediate impression - picking up a yellow card only 13 minutes into his first appearance for his new club.
Three Sunderland players also picked up bookings - Lee Cattermole, Emanuele Giaccherini and John O’Shea - in a game that was, according to the Evening Chronicle, played at a pedestrian pace.
The highlight of the action was a sweet finish from 25 yards by Lens on 74 minutes. The Dutchman, a favourite of Advocaat who had signed from Dynamo Kyiv for an undisclosed fee, had robbed Hannover defender Salif Sané of the ball on the left hand side before cutting in and smacking a low shot to the near post, catching ‘keeper Zieler off guard and nestling in the bottom corner.
The goal sealed a third win from six games in the warm up to a season that wouldn't quite live up to our pre-season expectations.