BERLIN, Sept 11, 2010 (AFP) - Germany captain Michael Ballack suffered a further setback on his return from injury when he was forced to limp out of Bayer Leverkusen's 2-2 draw at 10-man Hanover on Saturday.
The 33-year-old came off after just 30 minutes following a heavy tackle on his left knee, but later played down the seriousness of the injury.
|Leverkusen's Michael Ballack waves before the German first division Bundesliga football match Hanover 96 vs Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the northern German city of Hanover on September 11, 2010. AFP|
"I took a knock on the knee, but one shouldn't make a drama out of it," said Ballack, who sat out Germany's two recent Euro 2012 qualification wins over Belgium and Azerbaijan.
Ballack missed the World Cup after tearing a ligament in his right ankle and on only his third Bundesliga game back, he has now injured his left knee and despite trying to play on, was substituted soon after.
Having seen his free-kick attempt saved, his first real chance to score in three German league games, Ballack was powerless as Hanover's Ivory Coast striker Didier Ya Konan had earlier scored his second goal in three games.
The 26-year-old capitalised on a rare mistake in Leverkusen's defence and slotted his shot past Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler on 20 minutes.
Hanover were reduced to 10 men after just 36 minutes when Austrian defender Emanuel Pogatetz was shown a second yellow card and the subsequent red when he sent Leverkusen's Arturo Vidal flying with a dangerous tackle.
The hosts scored their second goal when Norway striker Mohammed Abdellaoue was left unmarked at a corner and headed home on 50 minutes.
Leverkusen's Swiss striker Eren Derdiyok scored on 62 minutes just two minutes after coming off the bench before Patrick Helmes scored from a free-kick in the 89th minute as Leverkusen fought back.
In the tense closing stages, Hanover coach Mirko Slomka, who turns 43 on Sunday, was sent to the stands for arguing with the linesman.
The result leaves Leverkusen in mid-table and Hanover third behind leaders Hoffenheim.
Hamburg drew 1-1 at home to Nuremberg which leaves them second in the table.
In the day's other matches, Stuttgart lost 2-1 at Freiburg to suffer their third defeat of the season while Eintracht Frankfurt routed 'Gladbach 4-0.
Ex-England manager Steve McClaren is still looking for his first win of the season as his Wolfsburg side lost 2-0 at Dortmund whose Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa scored his first Bundesliga goal.
Defending champions Bayern Munich host Werder Bremen later on Saturday.
On Friday, Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer conceded a late own goal as Hoffenheim kept up their dream start to the season to claim their third-straight victory with a 2-0 win over Schalke.
This was Schalke's third defeat in three games and their Germany defender Christoph Metzelder face a race against time to be fit for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Lyon after picking up a groin strain.