Last night, Hamburg travelled to Karslruhe for the deciding match in the Bundesliga relegation play-off. Although the quality of the game left much to be desired, the level of excitement it provided should be appreciated highly. So what happened?
2. Bundesliga outfit Karlsruher SC were looking to take advantage of the away goal they had scored in the 1-1 draw at Hamburg, just a few days ago. In other words, Karlsruhe only needed a goalless draw to earn promotion to the Bundesliga. As such, it was not surprising that both teams looked nervous and not quite ready to take any risks, knowing that conceding a goal would complicate the situation. Despite this, a rather boring game then turned on its head, when Reinhold Yabo, who had only been on the pitch for six minutes, finished after a chipped pass from Hennings in the 78th minute.
All of a sudden, excitement was back and a game that seemed to run its unentertaining course was put back on track. As the last few minutes went by, KSC fans would have been forgiven for thinking that the southern German club was on the brink of securing promotion to the top flight. However, a final twist came in the first minute of injury time, when Hamburg were awarded a controversial free-kick on the edge of the 18-yard box. Similar to the situation David Beckham must have faced when he took his incredible free-kick against Greece in 2001, Marcelo Diaz stepped up for Hamburg and landed his curled shot in the top-left corner of the goal, a truly remarkable feat under such pressure.
As a result, the game went into extra-time and both teams canceled each other out yet again. Then, with five minutes to go, Hamburg’s three substitutes created a chance out of nothing and Nicolai Muller made sure of the goal, when he put the ball over the line in 115th minute. Karlsruhe now needed two goals to make it into Germany’s top division and were awarded a penalty in the last few seconds. However, Hennings missed from the spot and awarded the victory to Hamburg who had now survived in the most improbable way to ultimately secure Bundesliga football for next season.
A rather boring game that still managed to provide endless excitement. Football does these things from time to time and viewers in Germany will be grateful for the drama, although hearts in Karlsruhe will be broken.