With 29,253 fans in attendance, Dynamo Dresden overturned a 1-0 deficit from the first leg to beat VfL Osnabrück 2-0 (2-1 aggregate) in the 2. Bundesliga relegation playoff and secure their status in the second tier for next season.
Dresden kept the same formation for the match but made one change, with David Solga returning to the midfield in place of Denis Streker. Timo Beermann came into the Osnabrück defence.
Prior to the match, former captain Cristian Fiél, one of the few players among Dresden’s squad to have played consistently well this season, called upon the fans to act as a 12th man and give the hosts the edge, having won six of their last seven home matches in the league. Dynamo’s fans did provide the atmosphere the players had desired, but both teams started the match slowly. Filip Trojan could have done better after a David Pisot error but scuffed a hurried shot well wide of the goal. That half-chance aside, the first 15 minutes passed without incident, as neither side could keep control of the ball or build attacks.
Tobias Müller was busy for the hosts throughout the first half. On 18 minutes, he worked the ball to the by-line and cut back for Idir Ouali, but the Frenchman’s first-time shot hit the post from eight yards. It was the first clear chance of the match and just another to add to the catalogue of wasted opportunities for Dynamo during the tie as a whole. The lively Ouali then tested the keeper with a fierce drive from 25 yards.
On the 30-minute mark, Dynamo had the goal to reward their pressure. Fittingly, it was Cristian Fiél who brought the hosts level on aggregate with an excellent team goal. The Spaniard did well under pressure to wrestle the ball from two opponents. Ouali took over and cut back for David Solga who dummied to let the ball reach Fiél in space. His crisp left-footed drive from 20 yards gave the goalkeeper no chance and found the top corner.
Dresden started to increase the pressure and push for a second goal. Home advantage in front of a raucous crowd became apparent for the first time, as the visitors struggled to regain their composure. Fiél was afforded space in the midfield to control the tempo but Dynamo couldn’t add to their lead. Just before half-time, Simon Zoller ran clear for the visitors and appeared to be brought down by Kirsten. Referee Peter Gagelmann waved play on, despite Kirsten not taking the ball. The incident seemed to spur the visitors into life for the first time, and a Timo Beermann header was cleared off the line by Filip Trojan shortly before half time.
Dynamo came out much the stronger side in the 2nd half, with Müller running clear of two defenders and shooting narrowly wide. The hosts continued to exert pressure on their opponents, but could not make the most of the openings they created. Ouali’s pace continued to cause problems for Osnabrück’s defence, who were shaky throughout the match. But the visitors were just about clinging on to the 1-0 scoreline. They had goalkeeper Manuel Riemann to thank for keeping them in the game. The 24-year-old stood firm against numerous set-piece deliveries from Fiél, before making an outstanding save to deny Ouali whose curling strike had looked destined for goal.
Minutes later, though, Dynamo had their decisive second goal. Substitute Tobias Kempe ran clear of the defence and squared the ball for a waiting Ouali, who nervelessly dispatched into an empty net from eight yards. It was fitting that the French winner, comfortably the best player on the pitch, scored the winning goal. His pace caused a constant threat to the Lilywhites’ backline and was central to all of Dynamo’s best moments. He crashed a shot wide on the break shortly after as Dynamo looked for a third goal to confirm victory. Behind him, Cristian Fiél delivered an excellent all-round performance. He had the most touches and made the most passes for his side, underlining his centrality to his team.
Knowing that an away goal would win them the match, Osnabrück did exert some late pressure in the match, but failed to create a meaningful chance in the second half. Two injury substitutions restricted their opportunity for a meaningful change. The energetic Timo Staffeldt started all of his side’s attacks (and will surely be chased by several 2nd tier sides in the summer). But VfL were kept at bay by a solid defensive display. Florian Jungwirth in particular was tireless for the hosts, and won an impressive 20 duels in the match.
As the final whistle blew, Dynamo Dresden were celebrating 2. Bundesliga football for another season, after two legs which summed up their campaign in so many ways. Over the two legs, Dynamo fully deserved to stay up. Having won the most points for any 2. Bundesliga side entering the playoff (37), they rightfully become the first club in this playoff’s short history to survive rather than win promotion. Whether they will start the next season with a new coach, though, is unclear. Although no official club statement has been released, Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk (Central German Broadcasting) reported during their live coverage of the match that Pacult will leave Dresden in the summer.
As for Osnabrück, their gamble to sack their coach Pele Wollitz the week before the end of the season did not pay off. The club’s playoff woes continue, losing this fixture for the third time in five years. Meanwhile, existing financial concerns will only grow as the club spends another season in the third tier.
However, they ran into a Dynamo Dresden side who were too good for them over two legs. Dresden’s best players made telling contributions when it mattered, from Kirsten’s penalty save in the first leg, to the performances of Fiél and Ouali here. Although there was little between the sides, Dynamo created so many chances across the two matches that even they couldn’t lose.
Header image courtesy of dpa.
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