HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — Hertha Berlin took its final chance to clinch Bundesliga survival by winning at Hamburger SV 2-0 in the second leg of their relegation-promotion playoff on Monday.
Goals from Hertha captain Dedryck Boyata and Marvin Plattenhardt in each half overturned Ludovit Reis’ winner for Hamburg in the first leg and ensured Hertha remained in the top division by winning 2-1 on aggregate.
Hamburg will have to wait to realize its dream of returning to the Bundesliga following its relegation in 2018. It finished fourth in the second division in each of the three seasons afterward, then third this season to reach the playoff against the team that finished third from bottom in the Bundesliga – Hertha.
Some 49,000 Hamburg fans expected their team to complete the job on Monday but instead it was the 6,000 Hertha fans who were celebrating at Hamburg’s sold-out Volksparkstadion.
Their gratitude went largely to Felix Magath, a former Hamburg club hero who was appointed Hertha coach in March to steer the club away from relegation. He completed the job against his former team and maintained his record of never being relegated from the Bundesliga.
“There’s a bit of a heavy heart now that I’ve played a part in helping ensure HSV won’t be in the top division next season,” said Magath, who scored Hamburg’s winning goal in the 1983 European Cup final against Juventus and enjoyed a decade-long playing career at the club.
The 68-year-old Magath said saving Hertha from relegation was his “most difficult job,” harder even than leading Wolfsburg to the Bundesliga title in 2009 ”because we didn’t have to be champions in Wolfsburg, second place would have been enough. But, here, the job was league survival and that was a damned hard task and extraordinarily complicated.”
Despite the loss, Hamburg’s supporters set off pyrotechnics and thanked the team for its efforts. Tim Walter’s players had won their previous five games including the first leg playoff.
“We’re HSV, we want to get out of this division,” Hamburg sporting director Jonas Boldt said, already looking to next season.