Hamburg loses its Bundesliga status as VfB Stuttgart maintains it. The promotion/relegation play-off between VfB Stuttgart and Hamburg ended in a decisive 6-1 Stuttgart victory on aggregate, guaranteeing Stuttgart’s spot in the 2023–24 Bundesliga. Tim Walter’s Hamburg had to overcome a 3-0 first-leg deficit, and they got off to the right start. Shortly after Jean-Luc Dompe had swerved a free kick to test Florian Müller, Sonny Kittel slammed home an 18-yard strike off the inside of the far post to excite the home crowd. After the restart, Chris Führich came dangerously close to hushing the Volkspark-Stadion, but Daniel Heuer Fernandes stopped at his near post.
Hamburg loses its Bundesliga status as VfB Stuttgart maintains it
With 16 minutes remaining, Serhou Guirassy did precisely that with a flawless backheeled finish, but the goal was disallowed for offside after a VAR review. After being fouled by Enzo Millot in his own area while attempting to clear the ball, Heuer Fernandes nearly shot himself in the foot. In a frantic first half, Guirassy and Robert Glatzel swapped well-placed long-range attempts, while Müller had to be on guard to deny Bakery Jatta a close-range goal with a header.
The fine work done by Hamburg was undone three minutes after the restart. A second time, Guirassy contributed by gathering the ball in the penalty area and passing it to Millot, who then shot through Heuer Fernandes’ legs. Stuttgart relaxed after taking a 4-1 aggregate lead and absorbed all HSV threw at them while waiting patiently for any breakaways. One such occasion was when Heuer Fernandes botched a clearance effort, allowing Millot to complete his hat trick with a simple finish into the unguarded goal and concluding the tie as a contest. Glatzel, Kittel, and Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer missed chances to at least cut the deficit as Stuttgart celebrated a job well done after adding a late third on the night through replacement Silas’ excellent solo effort. Port City club Hamburg has been a fixture in Bundesliga 2 for the sixth consecutive year.
Statistics for the match
Stuttgart will play in the Bundesliga for the fourth consecutive year. Since Wolfsburg defeated Holstein Kiel in the promotion/relegation play-off in 2018, Die Schwaben is the first team to triumph in both games. Since Hoeneß took over as coach on April 3, VfB has only lost two of their 12 games in competitive play. When he took over as coach in place of Bruno Labbadia, they were at the bottom of the Bundesliga standings.
Under Hoeneß, Millot has scored all three of his goals this year. The Frenchman, who was the youngest player (20) on the field, also notched his first Stuttgart hat trick. Hamburg has lost out on play-off promotion for the past two seasons. At the end of 2021–2022, they lost to Hertha Berlin 2-1 overall. Since the play-off was revived 14 years ago, only three Bundesliga 2 teams have been promoted:
Union Berlin in 2019, Fortuna Düsseldorf in 2013, and Nuremberg in 2009.
It would always be a spectacular fight for one top-flight spot in 2023–24 between two former Bundesliga champions, and it more than delivered. Konstantinos Mavropanos’ bullet header from a corner into the top right corner of the net gave the hosts a perfect start with only 47 seconds remaining on the clock. In an open opening phase, Stuttgart continued to dominate. Chris Führich had a shot from a close angle deflected aside by Daniel Heuer Fernandes.
Midway through the first half, Serhou Guirassy missed a golden opportunity to extend the lead when he shot at Heuer Fernandes while having plenty of time to think about his shot. A few minutes later, after Ludovit Reis fouled Enzo Millot from the penalty spot, Heuer Fernandes leaped to stop Guirassy again. Then, as more Stuttgart chances arose, the Hamburg goalie denied Führich. Before the interval, the Bundesliga 2 team showed outstanding effort but created few quality chances. Mavropanos had the last opportunity of the half, but his free-kick header was wide.
Beginning the second session with an enthusiastic approach, Stuttgart threatened from two early corners.
Then, Führich and Wataru Endo broke open Hamburg with a deft attack in which the Japanese player crossed the ball for Josha Vagnoman to score two goals against his former team. Guirassy immediately followed up with another dominating header from a corner to make it 3-0 in favor of the home team. Hamburg attempted to find a lifeline, but a sprawling Florian Müller sent away Robert Glatzel save.
But it turned out that was just a short break in Stuttgart’s ongoing hegemony. Before Hamburg’s Anssi Suhonen was dismissed for kicking Vagnoman shortly after coming in as a substitute, Mavropanos had another headed opportunity. With some late offensive pressure, Hamburg’s 10 men did manage to mount a slight comeback, but Mavropanos missed one final opportunity to increase the home team’s lead. With a three-goal advantage going into Monday’s second leg at Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion, Stuttgart currently has the tie in its hands.