27.02.2016 18:49 h

Kiyotake stars as Hanover break losing streak

Japan's Hiroshi Kiyotake breathed life into Hanover 96's relegation fight on Saturday by setting up both goals in their shock 2-1 win at Stuttgart that ended an eight-game losing streak.

The 26-year-old Kiyotake made his first start since suffering a fractured foot in November and he showed what his bottom-of-the-table side had been missing in his absence.

The attacking midfielder displayed his deadball skills as he twice combined with centre-back Christian Schulz to give his side their first win of 2016.

Fellow Japan international Hotaru Yamaguchi, who joined Hanover in January from Kiyotake's former club Cerezo Osaka, featured on the right wing as Kiyotake impressed.

"Kiyotake is a great footballer and we had practised the move in training. He knew exactly where to put the ball," said Schulz.

"Everytime 'Kiyo' is on the pitch, he shows what superb technique he has and he is very important for us."

After Stuttgart took an early lead through Timo Werner, Kiyotake curled in a free-kick for Schulz to head home at the far post on 32 minutes.

Stuttgart had chances cleared off the line by Hanover's Oliver Sorg either side of the break and Kiyotake and Schulz combined again on 84 minutes as the latter tapped home the rebound after his bullet header was saved.

It sealed Hanover's first win since beating Ingolstadt on November 28 as the relegation scrap intensifies.

Just four points now separate the bottom three of Werder Bremen, Hoffenheim and Hanover, who remain five points from safety.

Thomas Schaaf's side have two tough games coming up in the next seven days -- they host Champions League side Wolfsburg on Tuesday before playing Bremen away in a crunch relegation battle next Saturday.