May 18, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
Hamburger SV sure love to spin out a good storyline. One of the founding members of the Bundesliga in 1962, HSV has spent 50 consecutive seasons in the top flight – the longest of any German club. But after a topsy-turvy season, it seemed like they were about to be relegated for the first time.
Instead, Hamburg saved themselves. After a goalless draw at home, HSV traveled to take on Greuther Fürth for the second leg of the Bundesliga playoff. The visitors were the better side in the first half, and, somewhat surprisingly, it took them less than fifteen minutes to find the goal.
After Pierre-Michel Lasogga put his shot just wide, Fürth goalkeeper Wolfgang Hesl used his leg to keep out a shot from Hakan Çalhanoğlu. Rafael van der Vaart put in the resulting corner, curling it beautifully for Lasogga to head in.
Hamburg’s momentum was upset around the half-hour mark, when Johan Djourou came off the worse in a collision with Ilir Azemi. The former Arsenal player ended up stretchered off with his neck in a brace.
Fürth came back into it in the second half, and by the hour mark they’d found their equalizer. Zoltán Stieber put his pass through Petr Jiráček, with Stephan Fürstner getting on the end to knock home.
But that wouldn’t be enough for Fürth: the away goals rule was in effect, and with a draw, HSV would win. The hosts pressed harder, and very nearly found promotion. But Jaroslav Drobný, in goal instead of René Adler, managed to keep his wits about him. The Czech made two great saves in injury time, keeping Hamburg level – and keeping them in the Bundesliga.
After spending the majority of the season fighting the drop, and very nearly losing out in the playoffs, surely Hamburg have realized their weaknesses. It’ll be a busy summer for HSV, one in which plenty of rebuilding will need to be done. But fans of German football will hope that Hamburg’s struggles will subside next season.
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