The Bundesliga 2 promotion race has been as entertaining and unpredictable as ever in 2022/23, played out in front of huge crowds. On the final day, Heidenheim pipped Darmstadt to the title in dramatic fashion, while Hamburg have to make do with the play-off.
Heidenheim - CHAMPIONS
Goals: 67-36 (+31)
Defeat in Paderborn had left Heidenheim just a point above Hamburg heading into the final two fixtures of the season, but they bounced back with victory over Sandhausen to keep their promotion fate in their own hands on the final day. They looked to have let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers as they fell 2-0 behind to Regensburg during Matchday 34, but they completed a dramatic comeback to triumph 3-2. Not only did the three points secure promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time ever, but they also ended the campaign as champions.
Watch: Heidenheim snatch promotion and the title in dramatic fashion
Darmstadt - PROMOTED
Goals: 50-33 (+17)
After slipping up against St. Pauli and Hannover, Darmstadt made it a case of third time lucky on Matchday 33. Phillip Tietz scored the only goal against Magdeburg as the Lilies confirmed their place in next season's Bundesliga, after a six-year absence. A point at Fürth on the final day would have been enough to clinch top spot, but a surprising 4-0 defeat means they have to make do with being runners-up.
Watch: The best of Darmstadt's season
See how the Bundesliga's battle for survival unfolded
Position: 3rd (promotion play-off)
Goals: 70-45 (+25
HSV have been knocking at the door of a Bundesliga return ever since getting relegated five years ago, only missing out last term in the play-offs against Hertha Berlin. They will have to make do with another play-off tie, this time versus Stuttgart, after automatic promotion was cruelly taken away from them on the final day. Their 1-0 victory away at Sandhausen looked to have been enough to leapfrog Heidenheim into second place, but FCH's comeback triumph, including a winner in the 99th minute, saw Tim Walter's men drop out of the top two right at the last.
Watch: HSV thought they were up till Heidenheim's late winner
AS IT HAPPENED - The race for promotion on Matchday 34
That's it for 2022/23!
Well, almost. That's it for the regular season across Germany's top two divisions as Bayern Munich and Heidenheim lift the Meisterschale for the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 respectively. Darmstadt are also up, but Hamburg can still join them as they contest the play-off for the second year in a row. This season it's Stuttgart looking to survive the drop. The winner goes up, the lose goes down with Hertha and Schalke. As if we hadn't had enough drama over the last 48 hours...
Watch: Heidenheim claim Bundesliga 2 title with dramatic comeback
Watch: HSV win and celebrate, but left dejected
Distraught HSV fans in Sandhausen
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It's finally all over!
Heidenheim have won! They are promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time ever! Hamburg thought they'd done it but those hopes have been dashed at the very death. They will have to contest the play-off against Stuttgart once again if they're to return to the big time.
Still going here...
Jan Elvedi has been sent off for Regensburg as we continue to play at the Jahn-Stadion. Although that decision has now been downgraded to a yellow. But it means yet more time added on.
They've done it!
Heidenheim have got their winner! They're going up! They're going to be champions!
Nerves in Sandhausen
Fans are on the pitch celebrating, but word has just reached them about that equaliser. It's suddenly gone very quiet again...
Beste converts after a long wait. And that will mean even more added time...
Full-time in Sandhausen!
Hamburg have won and are celebrating. But should they just yet...?
And it's gone the way of Heidenheim!
A huge ELEVEN minutes more to be played in Regensburg.
There's an extra four minutes to be played between Sandhausen and Hamburg. They're still two minutes shy of the 90 in Regensburg.
As it stands
With three minutes of the 90 left in Sandhausen, Hamburg simply have to hang on to their lead. Over in Regensburg, Heidenheim have to score twice if HSV hang on.
Huge cheers keep going up around the ground in Sandhausen every now and then, suggesting something has happened in Regensburg. But there hasn't yet. Heidenheim are still trailing.
Darmstadt further behind
A fourth for Fürth with Darmstadt clearly feeling the effects of their promotion celebrations. Heidenheim will be kicking themselves if they lose and miss out on both promotion and the title.
Stick or twist?
HSV look a bit unsure of what to do right now. It's all going their way as it stands, but things will change completely if they were to concede an equaliser. Do they look to shut up shop or get a second to make things more comfortable?
It's hot enough in Bavaria today to warrant a drinks break. That will only add more time onto the end of this game.
No change as yet
The clock has just ticked past 70 minutes in Sandhausen. HSV are still ahead and going up as it stands, but they're a bit behind in Regensburg as Heidenheim push for an equaliser.
A busy couple of minutes!
Just moments before those two quick goals in Regensburg, Darmstadt conceded a second to Fürth. It doesn't really impact proceedings, but means Heidenheim can still win the title if they can score twice more to win. Even if they don't, HSV's one-goal advantage is a precarious one. If they concede, Heidenheim will still be up. This really could go any way!
HDH get one back!
Immediate response from Heidenheim with their dreams hanging by a thread as Benedikt Saller puts into his own net.
Disaster for Heidenheim as Owusu strikes again for Regensburg!
As it stands
1. Darmstadt: 67 points; 2. Hamburg: 66 points; 3. Heidenheim: 64 points
Huge goal in Regensburg!
And it's gone to the hosts as Owusu powers home a header from a corner to go ahead against Heidenheim. And it's greeted by an almighty roar from the away end in Sandhausen.
A goal elsewhere...
And it's gone to Fürth at home to Darmstadt! The league leaders are behind and that opens the door for Heidenheim to win the title, but unless they score, they won't even be going up!
Hits the post!
A clearance goes as far as Heyer on the edge of the box. He controls and bends one from right of centre to the far corner, but the ball bounces back off the post and away. So close to a second for HSV.
Heidenheim going again
A good two-and-a-half minutes after the game in Sandhausen, things have restarted now between Regensburg and Heidenheim.
45 to go...
Hamburg are back under way in Sandhausen. They're a good few minutes behind in Regensburg, so it could be a bit of a waiting game for HSV to discover their fate even after their game finishes.
Forty-five minutes played across Bundesliga 2 on the final day. As it stands, HSV will be joining Darmstadt in the Bundesliga next season after they went ahead against Sandhausen. Heidenheim haven't gotten going yet in Regensburg and need to score to keep their dreams of a first-ever top-flight promotion alive.
Half-time in Sandhausen
So far so good for Hamburg as the half-time whistle blows in their game. Still some added time to be played in Regensburg, but that remains goalless.
Heart in mouth for HSV!
Their former man Diekmeier almost comes back to haunt them as he ghosts in at the far post to meet a cross. The connection isn't great but goalbound. Schonlau knows nothing about it as the ball hits him a few yards out from his own goal.
A word on Regensburg
The Bavarians are not officially down coming into today but need to win and see a 15-goal swing over Bielefeld. Well, Arminia are behind now to Magdeburg. Will that prove some added impetus for Jahn to keep pushing against promotion-chasing Heidenheim?
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Two chances in quick succession at both grounds that could've changed the state of play dramatically. Heidenheim first came close through top scorer Kleindienst, just clipping the side netting, before Sandhausen's Bachmann had a golden chance to level with a free header in the penalty area, but he failed to direct it under the crossbar.
Königsdörffer has HSV's sixth effort of the game shortly after Schonlau headed over a corner. The visitors aren't content with just a one-goal lead.
Elsewhere at the top
Darmstadt know a point, or Heidenheim failing to win, will guarantee them the title, but they're down to 10 men in Fürth after Patric Pfeiffer was sent off.
All smiles from HSV boss Walter so far
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Regensburg looking comfortable so far
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Could be two!
HSV's top scorer Robert Glaztel gets up and meets a cross from the left unmarked. The header looked like it was going inside the far post but in fact flies just inches the other side.
HSV forced into a change
Laszlo Benes looks to have pulled something after hitting a shot. He can't continue and is off for Anssi Suhonen.
Nothing yet from HDH
Any sign of a response from Heidenheim? Not as yet. In fact, it's Regensburg who've come closest and forced a save out of Müller.
Never too late
Dompe's third goal of the season - Hamburg have won both the games in which he's previously scored - is HSV's earliest of the season. It piles the pressure on Heidenheim to respond.
Perfect start for HSV!
Barely three minutes on the clock in Sandhausen and Hamburg are in front thanks to a brilliant volley from Dompe at the far post. No chance for Drewes in goal. It's a strike that moves HSV above Heidenheim into second as it stands.
A huge 90 minutes to come!
We're under way in Sandhausen and Regensburg are Hamburg and Heidenheim look to get over the line. We saw so much drama at the top in the Bundesliga yesterday. Are we in for more of the same in the second division today?
HSV also as expected
HSV have a few players suspended who would likely start in Bakery Jatta and Ludovit Reis, so Tim Walter picks his best team from those available: Heuer Fernandes - Heyer, David, Schonlau (c), Muheim - Meffert, Kittel, Benes - Königsdörffer, Glatzel, Dompe
Line-ups are in!
It's all or nothing for Heidenheim, so no shock to see them going with their best available team: Müller - Busch, Siersleben, Mainka, Föhrenbach - Schöppner, Maloney - Pick, Thomalla, Beste - Kleindienst
When are the play-offs?Known in German as the 'Relegation', despite the fact it's as much about earning promotion as it is one team avoiding relegation, the two legs take place in the week after the end of the season. Stuttgart will host the first game this coming Thursday (1 June), before the return fixture at the home of the Bundesliga 2 club the following Monday (5 June). Away goals are no longer counted in the play-offs. Hamburg missed out on promotion over two legs against Hertha Berlin last season.
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Stuttgart awaitOne of Heidenheim and Hamburg will be having a party tonight to celebrate promotion. Whoever comes up short, however, faces two more matches this season in a final attempt to gain promotion. After the results of Matchday 34 in the Bundesliga yesterday, we now know that it's Stuttgart who will stand in their way.
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The Bundesliga 2 trophyCould Heidenheim get their hands on this today, or will Darmstadt hold on at the top to be crowned champions of the second division?
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For Heidenheim to make history, they simply have to win against essentially relegated Regensburg. They could even be champions if Darmstadt also lose in Fürth. Failing that, they just need to equal Hamburg's result at already relegated Sandhausen to guarantee second. As for HSV, they basically have to win and hope Heidenheim slip up to end their five-year Bundesliga absence. A draw would only be enough if Heidenheim lost by six goals or more.
A case of two into oneWith Darmstadt up - and a point away from also wrapping up the second division title - it's Heidenheim in the box seat to claim the second automatic promotion spot and a first-ever season in Germany's top flight. Their advantage over HSV is one point, meaning we're in for a tense final day. Whoever comes up short, however, will have one more chance at coming up via the play-off against the team that finishes 16th in the Bundesliga.
Darmstadt already upThere are two automatic promotion spots to the Bundesliga and Darmstadt claimed the first last weekend by beating Magdeburg to secure their top-flight return after six years.
All the action in one place
It's up to you how you follow race for promotion on Sunday. You can choose to follow our individual blogs of Regensburg vs. Heidenheim and Sandhausen vs. Hamburg, or you can keep across all the thrills and spills from both those games in one place through this live blog.
Who will join Darmstadt?
Welcome along to coverage of the final matchday of the 2022/23 Bundesliga 2 season as Heidenheim and Hamburg compete to join Darmstadt back in the top flight in 2023/24.