Hamburg SV were just a couple of minutes away from being relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time in the team’s history. After a 1-1 draw in the home leg against Karlsruher SC, they fell behind in the second leg and looked to be relegated. But a late goal by Marcelo Diaz took the game to extra time, and Nicolai Muller became the hero for HSV with the game-winning goal in extra time as HSV survives 3-2 on aggregate.
The tension and the importance of the game could be felt through the TV screen as HSV tried to salvage an abysmal season and avoid relegation. Despite having a majority of the possession and shots on goal in the first half, HSV failed to grab the all important first goal. When Reinhold Yabo gave KSC the lead in the 78th minute, you could see the disbelief and fear in the eyes of the HSV supporters.
HSV pushed forward during the last part of regular time, and in stoppage time they got a freekick right at the edge of the penalty box. Diaz walked up and put a perfect ball over the wall and into the back off the net. The HSV bench erupted as they took the game to extra time since both games ended in 1-1 draws.
After a scoreless first half of extra time, HSV grabbed the lead in the 115th minute after a goal by Nicolai Muller. Karlsruhe got a golden opportunity to tie the game in the dying seconds as they were awarded a penalty kick, but Rouwen Hennings missed and HSV will continue to play in the Bundesliga next season.
Hamburg has been in the Bundesliga since its inception in 1963 and is the only club that has never been relegated. In all, HSV has been in the top-tier of German soccer since the end of World War I.
HSV goalkeeper Rene Adler, who has played for Karlsruhe earlier in his career, told media after the game that the victory was a culmination of good teamwork.
“I feel like I aged three years tonight. It’s incredible what we did in the last six weeks. A triumph of team spirit,” said Adler. “It was a crazy match and anything could have happened in a match like this. I was already thinking at the end of regulation time that we’d end up in the second division but caught myself and said, ‘Stop, no that’s not going to happen.”
The last couple of seasons have been tough for HSV, and last season they also had to play in the relegation playoff, and beat Furth on the away-goal rule after a 0-0 draw at home at the Imtech Arena and a 1-1 draw in the second leg.
Something needs to change for the North German club. Mismanaged and a botched push for European competitions left HSV in a bad financial spot, and despite having some solid names in the lineup like Rafael van der Vaart, Adler and Lewis Holtby, things just haven’t clicked on the field. A lot of work needs to be done during the summer if they want to avoid another poor season and the threat of relegation.
Muller’s goal in extra time meant that KSC had to score two goals because of the away-goal rule, so it felt like HSV had it in the bag at that time. Muller was obviously excited and relieved after the game when he spoke to the media.
“No one gave up,” said Muller, who had the game winner. “We did it. We’re still in the Bundesliga. We were carrying a lot of baggage all season and it feels great to unload that all in a few seconds now.”