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Heartbreak for Hamburg as Heidenheim clinches Bundesliga promotion

Heidenheim celebrates Heidenheim celebrates - Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

BERLIN (AP) — Tim Kleindienst scored in the ninth minute of injury time for Heidenheim to clinch Bundesliga promotion at Hamburger SV’s expense with a 3-2 win at Jahn Regensburg on the final day of the season.

Hamburg fans were prematurely celebrating their team’s automatic promotion to the top tier on Sunday when they stormed the field after a 1-0 win at last-place SV Sandhausen. Their wait after five seasons in the second division was over — or so they thought.

Heidenheim, which had been second in a direct promotion place before the final round, was losing at Regensburg, but the visitors had 11 minutes of injury time to get the two goals they needed for promotion.

Then Heidenheim was awarded a penalty, confirmed by a VAR check, and Jan-Niklas Beste equalized in the third minute of injury time.

There was still time for Beste to set up Kleindienst for the winner in a desperate finale, causing consternation among Hamburg fans watching from afar – and in Sandhausen, where the stadium announcer had congratulated some 12,000 visiting fans on their team's promotion.

“Our stadium announcer wrongly assumed that HSV had been promoted,” Sandhausen said in a statement. “In order to de-escalate the situation inside the stadium, he congratulated the guests on their promotion.”

Sandhausen apologized to Hamburg for the mistake.

Heidenheim finished second division champion thanks to already promoted Darmstadt’s 4-0 loss at Greuther Fürth. It’s Heidenheim’s first-ever promotion to the Bundesliga.

“There are no words for it,” Kleindienst said. “That’s why we love soccer, that’s why we love sport. Because stories like this are written. It’s just fantastic, madness, insane. That was sheer belief. But we deserved it.”

Hamburg still has a chance. It finished third in the second division and will contest the relegation/promotion playoff against Stuttgart, which finished third from bottom in the Bundesliga on Saturday, to see which team plays in the top division next season.

It had looked like Jean-Luc Dompé’s third-minute strike was enough for Hamburg to finish second behind Darmstadt – but Heidenheim’s late goals spoiled the party.

“When soccer is played, goals can be scored and all kinds of things can happen,” said Hamburg coach Tim Walter, whose team must visit his former club Stuttgart for the first leg of their playoff on Thursday. “We’ll get up again tomorrow and we’ll attack again tomorrow because we don’t have time.”

Hamburg was relegated from the Bundesliga in 2018 after several close brushes with demotion. It had been the only ever-present team in the league since it was founded in 1963, earning the nickname “der Dino.”

Heidenheim is the 57th team to play in the Bundesliga. The club was only promoted to the second division in 2014. Five years before that, it was promoted to the third division. Every promotion was achieved as champion.

“I simply don't believe it,” Heidenheim captain Patrick Mainka said of the latest achievement with tears in his eyes. "It's unbelievable how we fought back.”


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