Wehen Wiesbaden earned promotion to Bundesliga 2 for the 2023/24 season after beating Arminia Bielefeld 2-1 in the second leg of their play-off tie on Tuesday, sealing a 6-1 aggregate triumph.
Arminia Bielefeld 1-2 Wehen Wiesbaden
Goals: 1-0 Klos 4' (assist: Lasme), 1-1 Hollerbach 35' (assist: Prtajin), 1-2 Hollerbach 45'+3 (assist: Heußer)
Bielefeld went into this game aware that they needed goals, and plenty of them, after losing 4-0 in the first leg last week. Uwe Koschinat's side enjoyed a dream start too, when veteran striker Fabian Klos put them in front with just four minutes of the clock, whipping the home crowd into a frenzy as they dared to believe in an unlikely comeback. Yet as impressive as the hosts were in going on the front foot - they finished the first half with 11 shots to Wiesbaden's six - they were twice caught out by some clinical finishing from Benedict Hollerbach. The 22-year-old first swept in an equaliser on the break to land a heavy psychological blow before his deflected shot on the stroke of half-time all but put the result beyond Bielefeld's reach. Try as they might in the second half, the home side could not find a way through again as Wiesbaden comfortably held on to secure a place in Bundesliga 2 next season, sending Arminia down to the third tier in the process.
Watch: Wiesbaden's promotion celebrations
First leg recap
Wehen Wiesbaden 4-0 Arminia Bielefeld
Goals: 1-0 Prtajin 6' (assist: Ezeh), 2-0 Wurtz 50', 3-0 Hollerbach 60' (assist: Prtajin), 4-0 Iredale 82' (assist: Stritzel)
Ivan Prtajin took advantage of a shaky Bielefeld start to head in Brooklyn Ezeh's sixth-minute cross. Martin Fraisl saved well to prevent Ezeh adding another, but was picking the ball out of his net again five minutes into the second half. Wehen captain Johannes Wurtz pounced on the Arminia goalkeeper's parry from a free-kick to stick away the hosts' second goal, before Benedict Hollerbach drove in off the right-hand flank and fired in an emphatic third with an hour gone. After Sebastian Vasiliadis and Robin Hack spurned chances to reduce the arrears, Wiesbaden substitute John Iredale made it 4-0 to put the 3. Liga outfit in complete control of the tie. Bielefeld will now need to score at least four goals in the decisive second leg on 6 June to stand any chance of retaining their Bundesliga 2 status.
Watch: First leg highlights
Promotion/ relegation play-off explained
Tradtionally, the play-off pits the 16th-placed Bundesliga 2 team against third in 3. Liga. However, as the Freiburg reserves were not eligible for promotion as the club already has a representative in Germany's top two divisions, third place (Osnabrück) gained automatic promotion and the team in fourth (Wiesbaden) went into the the two-legged play-off. The winner of the tie will play Bundesliga 2 football in 2023/24, with the loser competing in the third tier.
A win away at Magdeburg on Matchday 34 would have secured survival for Bielefeld, but they fell to a comprehensive 4-0 defeat. As such, they ended the 2022/23 campaign two points adrift of Eintracht Braunschweig and outright Bundesliga 2 safety.
Wiesbaden's fate was far less clear-cut. Their 1-0 victory over Hallescher appeared to be enough to secure their return to the second tier, especially with Osnabrück trailing by the same scoreline to Borussia Dortmund II. However, two injury-time strikes turned that fixture on its head, and Osnabrück ultimately leapfrogged Wiesbaden into the final automatic promotion spot, due to the aforementioned second-placed finish by Freiburg II.
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