Hamburg coach Martin Jol claimed his team deserved their place in the Europa League next season, even if they secured it with practically the final kick of the season.
The northern Germany side threw away a two-goal lead at Eintracht Frankfurt yesterday to risk missing out on a fifth-place finish, but a stoppage-time goal from Piotr Trochowski sent 10,000 travelling fans inside Frankfurt's Waldstadion into delirium.
That goal was enough to take Hamburg above Borussia Dortmund and into Europe next season.
"The joy is immense," said Jol. "The team has deserved this success and I am most pleased for our fans. They are incredible with 10,000 of them following us here to Frankfurt, which is amazing.
"They have deserved this European qualification as much as the team."
Trochowski's goal saved Hamburg from a third bitter disappointment in the last few weeks after their dreams of a treble ended with a hat-trick of defeats to Werder Bremen in the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal, the UEFA Cup and the Bundesliga.
Although they came close to winning the league title, finishing fifth was still a positive achievement, according to chairman Bernd Hoffmann.
"Of course there could have been more in this season for us, but overall, the season has got to be regarded as a success," he told the club's website. "We have qualified for Europe once again and are therefore continuing in the right direction.
"Considering the whole season, the team and our supporters have deserved this success."
Frankfurt coach Friedhelm Funkel said goodbye to the club he has coached for the last five years.
"I have had a lot of fun working here and had five fantastic years here," he said. "It is obviously disappointing that we have not managed to win the final game."