Comeback for the ages as shoot-out glory preserves Bochum’s Bundesliga status

By Ultan Corcoran@UltanCorcoran

VfL Bochum and Fortuna Düsseldorf reacquainted themselves for the second-leg of the Bundesliga promotion-relegation play-off which finished 3-0 to the visitors. Bochum would complete the thrilling comeback with a 6-5 victory on penalties.

It was a somewhat cagey start from the visitors who received two yellow cards in a matter of minutes. Tim Oermann hauled Christos Tzolis to ground as the Greek winger got goal-side of the defender. However, Heiko Butscher’s men settled and broke the deadlock in the 18th-minute. Continuing to be pivotal for Bochum, Kevin Stöger swung a delightful set-piece cross into Philipp Hofmann who powered his header past Kastenmeier.

Bochum’s centre-forward could’ve added a second in the subsequent attack. His decision to take an initial touch rather than a first-time strike perhaps the costly factor as Düsseldorf scrambled the ball to safety. Fortuna came close to a leveller on the half-hour as Tzolis’ delivery was wasted by Jordy de Wijs. Aside from a Sobottka effort, Daniel Thioune’s side were second best. Perhaps a fraction lucky too that a deflected Lukas Daschner strike didn’t loop into the host’s net.

Chances were few and far between after the interval, but Fortuna’s fortunes ran out in an instant after the hour – Kevin Stöger repeated the dose, picking out Hofmann once more to smash home his second header of the night. Two minutes later Zimmermann’s handball left arbiter Deniz Aytekin with the easy decision of awarding the penalty. Who else but the Austrian maestro Stöger would send Kastenmeier the wrong way. Momentum firmly propelling the Bochum fightback while Düsseldorf sat off.

The comeback was almost complete with just under 20 minutes left to play. Substitute Takuma Asano directed his headed effort for the bottom left corner. A collective sigh of relief rang out as Florian Kastenmeier reacted brilliantly. The Düsseldorf shot-stopper incensed by the ease with which Bochum could attack. It was almost a grand slam finish in injury time as an unusually quiet Tzolis cut in to shoot. Ivan Ordets made the vital block to ensure extra-time.

With fatigue setting into the legs of both teams, extra-time brought about relatively little talking points. Düsseldorf shaded the action with the best chance at the death. Impact sub Niemiec repelled on the double as Tim Oermann hooked it off the line and Noah Loosli blocked the rebound. The dreaded penalty shoot-out arrived. 

The coin toss favoured Bochum who opted for the goal nearest the gästeblock. While Andreas Luthe, deputising for the suspended Manuel Riemann, denied Andre Hofmann from the first spot-kick, Kastenmeier responded. Düsseldorf’s keeper repelled Bochum’s third taker in Erhan Masović. The pivotal moment came in sudden death. Maximilian Wittek tucked his penalty into the lower left side, as Takashi Uchino skied the crossbar. Elation for Bochum as ‘the un-relegateables’ stood through to their nickname. One of the most exilerating games in Bundesliga history.

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