Bundesliga: Hamburg live to fight again; Paderborn, Freiburg down
On a dramatic final day in the Bundesliga, Paderborn and Freiburg have been relegated with Hamburg to compete in the relegation play-off.
Despite leading after four minutes of action, Andre Breitenreiter’s team makes an immediate return to the second division.
Meanwhile, Christian Streich’s Freiburg go down after giving their all with limited resources – the Black Forest club are relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time since 2005.
While Hamburg secured a 2-0 win over Schalke, Bruno Labbadia’s men will take on the third-placed side in the second-division over two legs in the next week to protect their Bundesliga status.
The Northern Germans competed in the play-off last season, beating Greuther Fürth over two games.
With Paderborn ahead through Marc Vucinovic’s early goal, Hamburg were bottom of the table and Stuttgart was left starting relegation in the face.
Hannover scored the first goal of the afternoon, though, to guarantee their survival through Hiroshi Kiyotake and take the action out of Freiburg’s hands.
But on 35 minutes, Huub Stevens’ men hit a deserved equalizer when Daniel Didavi blasted the ball past Lukas Kruse from the edge of the box.
The attacking-midfielder has re-energized Stuttgart in recent weeks and he was influential in one-or-two other chances before the break. Both Daniel Ginczek and Martin Harnik were guilty of missing golden opportunities.
Yet things were to change after the interval with the match at Hamburg bursting into life when Ivica Olic rifled the ball home on 47 minutes.
About 10 minutes later, the volume in Hamburg was turned up a further notch. Former Chelsea kid Slobodan Rajkovic got on the end of Lewis Holtby’s superb set-piece to reward Labbadia for his recent return to the starting eleven.
Even with Hamburg leading, results elsewhere had to fall into place for the Northern Germans. And on 72 minutes, Ginczek’s sweet finish, rounding Kruse and slotting into the empty net, moved HSV into the relegation play-off position and keeping Stuttgart’s head above water.
Hannover bagged a second to leave Freiburg finishing second-bottom despite grabbing a late consolation in stoppage time.
Hamburg, in 16th, are likely to play one of Kaiserslautern, Darmstadt and Karlsruhe from the second-tier to avoid relegation with the first leg on Thursday May, 28.
Although Hertha Berlin was still mathematically under threat on the final day, the Berliners are safe for another season. Anthony Modeste put Hoffenheim ahead on eight minutes, as the club toasted the new contract for the highly-coveted Kevin Volland. Roy Beerens leveled for the Old Lady in the second-half before Roberto Firmino hit the winner on 82 minutes.
Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund completed their turnaround in the second-half of the season, beating Werder Bremen 3-2 to secure a spot in next season’s UEFA Europa League.
On 15 minutes, Ilkay Gundogan pressed like he did in years before, winning possession before setting up Shinji Kagawa whose finish was well-taken. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled their lead less than two minutes later – the goal was his 16th of the season.
Even after Levin Özuntali’s swift goal on 26 minutes, Dortmund raced ahead, playing some great attacking football with Henrikh Mkhitaryan making it 3-1 by the break.
Bremen cut the deficit with a late goal, but Dortmund’s win secures 7th place ahead of the German Cup final next week in Berlin.
In Saturday’s other final Bundesliga games, Bayern Munich enjoyed a routine 2-0 win over Mainz before the celebrations began post-match. Robert Lewandowski scored from the spot – his 17th of the season – while Bastian Schweinsteiger struck on his 501st league appearance from close range.
Elsewhere, Eintracht Frankfurt beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1. Haris Seferovic converted a brilliant team-move on three minutes before Karim Bellarabi equalized with a powerful long-range strike.
Thomas Schaaf’s men moved back into the lead on 38 minutes through center-back Alexander Madlung’s short-range finish.
FC Augsburg will play in Europe for the first time next season following a 3-1 win over third-place Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The Foals’ first-half goal from Raffael was pegged back on 73 minutes when Pierre Hojbjerg slammed in a long-range effort.
Tim Matavz and Sascha Mölders netted late on to secure a spot in the Europa League group stages for the Bavarians who finish the season in fifth ahead of Schalke and Dortmund.
1.FC Köln and second-place Wolfsburg played out a 2-2 draw with Luiz Gustavo and Ivan Perisic netting for the German Cup finalists.