BERLIN – Michael Ballack returned to the starting lineup for the first time in four months following his recovery from a shin injury, helping Bayer Leverkusen defeat Hannover 2-0 Friday night in the Bundesliga.
Arturo Vidal scored in the 21st minute and Leverkusen captain Simon Rolfes added a goal in the 42nd off a pass from Gonzalo Castro.
Ballack, the German national team captain, had a game-high 94 touches in his first start since a shinbone was injured Sept. 11 by Sergio Pinto, who also faced him Friday night.
Hannover's Mohammed Abdellaoue sent a header just over the crossbar in the second half off a cross from American defender Steven Cherundolo.
Second-place Leverkusen (11-3-6) has 39 points, eight behind Borussia Dortmond (15-2-2) and five ahead of third-place Hannover (11-8-1).