As its top flight counterpart, much was left to play for in the 2. Bundesliga on the final day of the season. With Eintracht Frankfurt and Greuther Fürth already having secured promotion the third spot was still up for grabs with Fortuna Düsseldorf, St. Pauli and this year’s surprise package Paderborn all with a chance to meet Hertha Berlin in the relegation playoff this coming week. Likewise, at the other end of the table a heated relegation battle took place between Alemania Aachen, Erzgebirge Aue, Energie Cottbus and Karlsruher SC.
Fortuna Düsseldorf draw enough despite St. Pauli master class
A draw against Duisburg was enough for Fortuna to clinch the third spot and meet Hertha in the first leg of the playoff on May 10th. Düsseldorf’s performances in the Rückrunde have been far from impressive after their great form in the first half of the season. They’ve managed just over half the points they gathered in the Hinrunde and their near spotless record at home has come under threat this calender year.
It was no surprise then that this would be a contentious match with so much on the line. Duisburg took the lead in the 8th minute through Maurice Exslager before Fortuna rallied from behind in quick succession to take the lead with goals from Oliver Fink (18) and Assani Lukimya (21). Like Hertha yesterday, Fortuna were helped when Exslager was sent off midway through the first half but Duisburg remained stubborn and made it difficult for Fortuna to finish their task. Their promotion hopes were dealt a big blow when Jürgen Gjasula’s 27th minute free kick deflected off the ball and into the net.
After an energy exhausting and tense first half the game calmed a bit in the second. Fortuna kept the ball more and looked to make their numerical advantage count but Duisburg, already safe and with nothing to play for, were happy to park the bus and defend with all men in their half. Düsseldorf found no way through but in the end the draw was enough as it kept them even on points with St. Pauli and through on goal difference.
St. Pauli will be disappointed by not making it back to the top flight after going down last year. Nevertheless, they went out in the best way possible, with arguably their best performance of the season. They convincingly beat Paderborn 5-0 in front of their passionate home support, narrowing the goal difference but not sufficiently to overtake Fortuna in the standings.
Cottbus and Aue stay up, KSC make the playoffs and Aachen go down
All four relegation candidates earned big wins on the final day of the season. Aue’s 2-1 win against Bochum and Cottbus’ 2-1 win against Union Berlin ensured that they avoided the drop and the relegation playoff, finishing 15th and 14th respectively. It was only the sixth time this season that Aue scored more than a single goal in the game but it was a win they had to earn after a thoroughly disappointing season. Cottbus, one of the favorites to earn promotion at the beginning of the season, have struggled all year long and while they were the safest of the four teams at the bottom they too needed a win to ensure they stayed up.
Elsewhere, Karlslruher SC (KSC) met the already promoted Eintracht Frankfurt in their most important match of the season. Elias Charalambous got the all important winner in the 9th minute to see off second placed Frankfurt and book a relegation playoff meeting with Jahn Regensburg. Aachen’s 2-1 win in Munich against 1860 on the other hand was not enough to keep them up. Already trailing the other clubs in the standings they need results to go their way elsewhere. It was only Aachen’s second away win this season but one that was ultiamtely in vain as KSC won their match.
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