Serie A

Bochum secure top-flight status via penalties at Duesseldorf

Bochum secure top-flight status via penalties at Duesseldorf

Kevin Stoeger (L) scored one and set up two as Bochum beat Fortuna Duesseldorf on penalties to maintain their place in the Bundesliga (UWE KRAFT)

Bochum will play first-division football again next season after coming from three goals down and beating second-division Fortuna Duesseldorf away via a penalty shoot-out in Monday's relegation play-off second leg.

Trailing 3-0 after the first leg at home, Bochum had little hope but were dragged back into the tie thanks to a superb performance from out-of-contract midfielder Kevin Stoeger, who laid on two goals before winning and converting a penalty.

Bochum led 3-0 at full-time and the match went to penalties after a goalless extra period.

Andreas Luthe saved Duesseldorf's first spot-kick but Florian Kastenmeier then saved one of Bochum's to keep the hosts in the shoot-out.

Players from both sides then converted spot-kicks until Takashi Uchino blasted his side's seventh over the bar, meaning Bochum stay in the top flight for a fourth straight season.

"We were in such a good position, we were so close, that's why it hurts even more," said Duesseldorf's sporting director Klaus Allofs.

"We didn't play well but I don't know why — we have no idea."

His Bochum counterpart Patrick Fabian told Sky: "Incredible, that topped it all off as far as the season is concerned.

"I'm incredibly proud of the boys."

– Confident mood –

The Bundesliga relegation play-off features the team which finished third from bottom in the top division against the third-placed second-division team in a home and an away leg.

Unbeaten in the second division since February, Duesseldorf were extremely confident of progressing after their three-goal first leg.

Before the game, fans unveiled a giant tifo which simply said: "Fortuna Wins".

Stoeger, who spent two years at Duesseldorf, laid on the opener after 18 minutes, curling in a free-kick for Philipp Hofmann to head home.

The duo again combined once more midway through the second half to bring Bochum within touching distance of the home side, Stoeger whipping in a cross with Hofmann again heading past Kastenmeier.

Just two minutes later, Stoeger won a penalty, blasting in a cross which connected with Matthias Zimmermann's outstretched arm.

The Austrian calmly converted from 12 yards to send Bochum 3-0 up, levelling the tie and silencing the shellshocked home fans.

Takuma Asano had a clear chance to win the match and the tie for Bochum with two minutes remaining, but could not get a boot to an inch-perfect cross with the goal beckoning.

With players from both sides already cramping up, the match went into an extra period, but chances were rare in what became a battle of attrition.

In the 118th minute, Jona Niemiec was denied twice in succession, sending the relegation match to penalties for just the second time in history and first since 1988.

Bochum's win means the first-division side have won the relegation play-off all but three times since it was re-introduced in the 2008-09 season.



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