Germany: 2. Bundesliga
FT
1 - 0
(1 - 0)
Darmstadt
Magdeburg
P. Tietz (36)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

SV Darmstadt 98 secure automatic promotion back to the Bundesliga

The 2023/24 German Bundesliga will officially feature the Hessen rivalry between Eintracht Frankfurt and their southern neighbors SV Darmstadt 98. It will be the third top-flight season in which the two cities, separated by about 30 kilometers, play together in the top flight. 

Six years after their relegation from the top flight under Torsten Frings, die Lilien have secured promotion back to the Bundesliga under Torsten Lieberknecht with a 1-0 home win over 1. FC Magdeburg.
Torsten Lieberknecht's SV Darmstadt 98 quickly shook off a disappointing defeat to Hannover 96 last Sunday and have clinched automatic promotion to the Bundesliga with a 1-0 win over 1. FC Magdeburg at the Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor on Friday night. A Philipp Tietz first half-goal proved the difference in a tense affair that went down to the wire.

The Hessen hosts had their fair share of defensive problems in the opening stages. Magdeburg lorded over more ball possession in the opening ten minutes. FCM forward Jason Ceka spurned an early chance at the 1-0 and keeper Marcel Schuhen had to make a strong save on Mohamed El Hankouri just shy of the quarter-of-an-hour mark.

Lieberknecht's men were nevertheless able to get themselves in the game after some early tempo drops. Tietz saw an effort cleared off the line in the 13th and whiffed on another chance in the 22nd. When Tietz found the back of the net off a Tobias Kempe cross in the 36th, it initially appeared as if the offside flag would render the goal void.

A VAR review nevertheless overturned the on-field decision and Darmstadt were credited with a 1-0 lead in the 38th. The Lilies pressed hard in search of a second goal, but it was Magdeburg who came closer with a potential equalizer any 45+4. Schuhen again had to be on-point to stop a mid-air first-time finish from Ceka.

The second half featured many mistakes from both sides and several foul stoppages that impeded the flow. A mistake from Magdeburg defender Jamie Lawrence in the 56th nearly gifted the hosts a 2-0 lead. Apart from this, there were few highlights. Matters sprung to life a bit after the 70-minute-mark, with Darmstadt at least registering a shot on target.

The supporters in the SV stands were given quite the scare in the 74th when Schuhen was forced to make a double-save on Ceka. The keeper's first-away of Ceka's cross landed right back with the German-Albanian attacker. Schuhen recovered in time to turn Ceka's direct shot out for a corner. Lieberknecht's men sat very deep through three minutes of second half injury time to officially secure promotion.

Elsewhere in the 2. Bundesliga on Friday night, Hamburg's FC St. Pauli were able to preserve a very slim hope of reaching the relegation playoff place. A 4-3 win over Holstein Kiel puts them three points behind city-rivals Hamburger SV in fourth-place. Unfortunately for the Kiezkickers, Hamburg need only to draw SpVgg Greuther Fürth to eliminate them from the promotion race.

The HSV must lose both against Fürth and last-placed Sandhausen on the final matchday in order for their smaller city rivals to have a small chance to draw level on points with their own win against Karlsruhe. Even then, a goal-differential gap of six tallies seems unlikely to be overcome. Darmstadt, Hamburger SV, and 1. FC Heidenheim occupy the top three 2. Bundesliga places.

Heidenheim can clinch automatic promotion with a win over Sandhausen tomorrow coupled with a HSV loss and still stand a chance of winning the league outright if they win their remaining two matches. Darmstadt wrap up the season against Fürth next weekend. Heidenheim play SV Jahn Regensburg.

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