Hertha Berlin rescued their top-flight status, overturning a first-leg deficit in a 2-0 win over Hamburger SV. Victory for ‘Die Alte Dame’ means that nine of the last 10 relegation play-offs have been won by the Bundesliga side.
After a dominant display in the first leg, a capacity crowd inside the raucous Volksparkstadion expected more of the same as ‘Die Rothosen’ aimed to return to the Bundesliga after four seasons away. The visitors had other ideas though, taking the lead inside the opening four minutes. Marvin Plattenhardt’s pinpoint corner was met by a towering header from Dedryck Boyata, slotting into the far corner in emphatic fashion.
Hamburg never got going in a hugely frustrating first half for the hosts, failing to register a single shot on target before the break. In fact it was Hertha who looked the more threatening outfit throughout, but clear-cut chances remained at a premium. Perhaps the best opening fell the way of Lucas Tousart, who unleashed from the edge of the box after smart interplay with Ishak Belfodil afforded him space, but Daniel Heuer Fernandes was equal to the shot.
Tim Walter’s men emerged after the interval with renewed vigour, pushing Hertha back into their own half for extended periods. Full-back Moritz Heyer finally worked the opposition goalkeeper, but his long-range drive was comfortably kept out by Oliver Christensen. That positive momentum was stopped dead in its tracks around the hour mark, as Plattenhardt’s free-kick from the right flew into the top corner, completely wrong-footing Heuer Fernandes.
Greater urgency was required if Hamburg were to get back into the contest, but that left them vulnerable on the break. Felix Magath, a Hamburg legend, was imparting his vast experience on his side, as they took every available opportunity to run down the clock. Their efforts extended to drastic measures, as Tousart received a second yellow card for kicking the ball away in stoppage-time.
Ultimately, ‘Die Rothosen’ had no answer for Hertha who were dominant on the night, winning for just the second time in their last 12 away league outings. Hamburg failed to score at home for the first time this season, condemning them to another season in the second tier. Victory for the capital outfit means that the away side is unbeaten in the second leg of the Bundesliga relegation play-off since 2009.