Germany: 2. Bundesliga
2 - 3
(0 - 0)
P. Owusu (51), P. Owusu (56), B. Saller (58)
J. Beste (90), T. Kleindienst (90)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

2. Bundesliga's conclusion: Heidenheim claim promotion with dramatic late comeback, HSV and Bielefeld must contest playoffs

Pure insanity reigned in the southern half of the Bundesrepublik on Saturday as another sensational comeback enabled 1. FC Heidenheim to not only punch their ticket to German football's top flight for the very first time, but claim the 2. Bundesliga title as well.

The small-town "club that could" have finally done it after years of flirting with promotion under their trainer of 16 years, Frank Schmidt.

The curse of Hamburger SV continues. The last Bundesliga side to succumb to relegation thought they had secured automatic promotion after a 1-0 win over SV Sandhausen left them second place in the Bundesliga table. Heidenheim nevertheless doused the HSV dreams with two goals deep in injury time.

Heidenheim's 3-2 victory over SSV Jahn Regensburg means that, just like last year, Hamburg must contest the promotion-relegation playoffs. Hertha BSC consigned the HSV to a fifth consecutive season of Bundesliga football last year. Next week, VfB Stuttgart will try and bury "der Dino" once again.
As the 2022/23 2. Bundesliga entered its final matchday, promotion candidates Hamburger SV and 1. FC Heidenheim both traveled to face opponents at the bottom of the table. The Hanseatic HSV paid a visit to the already relegated SV Sandhausen while Heidenheim made the trip across the Bavarian border to play 17th-placed SSV Jahn Regensburg. Everything remained at stake as - following Darmstadt's promotion last week - another automatic promotion place to the top-flight was up for grabs. So too was the 2. Bundesliga title.

Matters ended up unfolding a bit as they did in the 3. Liga yesterday. After all the simultaneous kickoffs across the Bundesrepublik were whistled close, Hamburg's 1-0 victory over their hosting Badeners proved insufficient for Tim Walter's HSV to snatch second place in the table and punch their ticket back up to German football's "Oberhaus". Heidenheim prevailed over Regensburg 3-2 over Regensburg in a match that featured 15 minutes of second-half injury time. A large traveling contingent of Hamburger supporters saw their hearts ripped out of their chests.

Walter's HSV got off to a dream start when attacker Jean-Luc Dompé volleyed home a Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer cross just underneath the crossbar in the 3rd minute. The BaWü hosts did manage to recover from Dompé's emphatic finish and the first half ended up being a rather evenly-matched affair. The guests were not helped by the fact that Laszlo Benes had to exit injured as well as some finishing errors from Königsdörffer and Robert Glatzel.

Very little transpired in a tightly contested second half during which the ball seemed glued to the midfield. Glatzel's attacking partners managed to get the ball forward to their lead-striker on several occasions, but the veteran German journeyman proved largely incapable of doing much with it. The large cohort of HSV fans in the stands appeared rather disengaged from the game as well, mostly keeping an eye on the parallel game over in Bavaria. When Hamburg-Sandhausen went final, Heidenheim were still trailing Regensburg 1-2.

Schmidt's Heidenheim played a sloppy and nervy first-half. The guests seemed to have nothing but lead in their legs and butterflies in their stomachs. It came as no surprise at all to see Regensburg rush out to a 2-0 lead shortly after the restart. SSV striker Prince Osei Owusu completed a blitz brace in a five-minute span between the 51st and 56th. The BaWü crew, already forced to withdraw two players due to injury, appeared dead in the water. Heidenheim sub Stefan Schimmer was able to force an own-goal off defender Benedict Saller in the 58th, however, and there was some faint hope.

The equalizer still never came; not until Heidenheim were awarded a penalty kick at 90+3. Jan Niklas Beste was able to convert the 2-2 from the spot after a lengthy VAR review to confirm the foul. The review pause meant that there would be several more minutes to play. FCH lead-striker Tim Kleindienst - who had hitherto had a very poor game - turned this to the guest's advantage. Beste furnished Kleindienst with a sharp flat cross at 90+9. The former Cottbus man turned the game around with the 3-2.

A hectic remaining phase saw a red card for Regensburg defender Jan Elvedi rescinded after a lengthy VAR review. That, combined with the added time for the previous review, pushed the match into 15 full minutes of added time. The HSV fans remained settled in the Hardtwald Stadion waiting to see if Regensburg could equalize and give them their automatic promotion slot back. This did not occur. Hamburg must face Stuttgart in the playoffs next week whilst Heidenheim overtake already promoted SV Darmstadt 98 to claim the title.

Elsewhere on the final matchday of the 2022/23 2. Bundesliga, DSC Arminia Bielefeld will contest the promotion-relegation playoffs against SV Wehen Wiesbaden next week after falling 0-4 to 1. FC Magdeburg. The German football club which currently holds the record for the most division switches since the inception of the Bundesliga continues to live up to its crazy "yo-yo" club reputation. Bielefeld were relegated from the top flight just last year.

Regensburg themselves would have already been relegated even if they won. Thanks to Bielefeld's loss, Eintracht Braunschweig and 1. FC Nürnberg were able to celebrate their own class preservation on the final matchday. Darmstadt could have still claimed the title had they not fallen to a 0-4 defeat away at Fürth, but will not be complaining about being promoted to the Bundesliga for the second time as runners-up.

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