June 1, 2015
SV Hamburger, the only team in German Bundesliga history to have never been relegated to the 2nd division, found themselves in the relegation playoffs for the second year in a row.
Last season, it was a Pierre Michel Lasogga goal in the relegation playoff that kept the Hamburgers from dropping.
This year, they needed more heroics.
Hamburg almost dropped outright to division 2 this season. But an unlikely final day win against Schalke coupled with help in other games saw the Hamburgers move up from 17th place and finish in 16th place in the table - aka the relegation playoff spot.
The first game of the playoffs this season saw hosts Hamburg fall behind early to the visitors Karlsruhe. A late equalizer helped avoid disaster for Hamburg as they eeked out a 1-1 final at home.
Down 1-0 in Karlsruhe after 90 minutes of play, it looked as if Hamburg's incredible run of survival in the German top league was over.
But then some extraordinary drama.
Hamburg were awarded a free kick near the area. Chile international Marcelo Díaz quickly took it, curling it into the corner of goal so perfectly that he couldn't have placed it any better into the back of the net if he had walked up to the goal and put it in with his hands.
The absolutely herculean goal by Diaz, seconds before injury time was to elapse, gave Hamburg yet another life, one of several in these past 12 months.
With no further scoring and a penalty shootout looming, Hamburg scored four minutes from the end of extra time. It ended 2-1 Hamburg winning (3-2 aggregate), sending their fans into delerium as they crawl out from the jaws of death yet again.
INCREDIBLY, DARMSTADT ADVANCE TO FIRST DIVISION
Joining Hamburg in the Bundesliga top flight next season will be tiny Damrstadt, who boast their own dramatic tale.
Darmstadt has the unnusual distinction of having advanced four divisions in the last two seasons.
Two seasons ago, Darmstadt was set to play in the 4th division.
But a team suspension from the 3rd division meant a club from the 4th division would need to fill the opening. That was Damrstadt.
Damrstadt filled in aptly. They wasted no time in taking advantage of their new found fortunes by immediately advancing to the 2nd division, where they again wasted no time, finishing 2nd place and outright advancement to the prestigious 1st division.
The small club and their weather-beaten stadium barely fulfill the league minimum of 15,000 seating capacity, as required in the Bundesliga 1st Division