Hamburg relieved to dodge relegation
Hamburg's players were relieved to secure their status as the Bundesliga's only ever-presents after winning their promotion/relegation playoff against Greuther Fuerth on away goals.
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Hamburg claimed a 1-1 draw in the second leg of the tie against their second-tier opponents at the Trolli Arena on Sunday to avoid the drop despite not winning any of their last seven games.
After 29 games of the 36-match league season, former European champions Hamburg were 16th in the table with just 27 points. In the final five games of the season, Hamburg were not able to add anything to their points tally, yet they avoided dropping into the automatic relegation spots as Nuernberg and Eintracht Braunschweig were unable to take advantage.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga's first-half header at Fuerth on Sunday was enough to keep Die Rothosen in the Bundesliga for another season after the goalless draw in the first leg, meaning HSV remain the only club to have played in every season of the Bundesliga since its formation in 1963.
"We are over the moon," sporting director Oliver Kreuzer said in a post-match interview. "That took some doing. Some say that it's embarrassing we were allowed to play the playoffs with only 27 points. But I don't care about that."
Hamburg captain Rafael van der Vaart, who was substituted 15 minutes from time on Sunday, admitted to reporters that he neither saw nor heard the final minutes of the match, preferring instead to listen to music in the dressing room to cope with the stressful climax of the tie.
"I was so nervous, it was awful," he said. "Today the pressure was even bigger than in a World Cup final."
Heiko Westermann also explained that those 90 minutes at the home of his former club were among the worst in his life.
"I am gone, on another planet," the defender said. "I will not be able to cope with another season like that. I'd be suicidal. We were just lucky to stay up after a bad season. I am just delighted for our fans."
While the players and club officials were happy and relieved, the German broadsheet Die Welt Kompakt declared on its front page: "They can't even do relegation. Lassogga and Co did all they could to get relegated, but Greuther Fuerth was not interested in winning promotion."