Bochum were crowned champions of Bundesliga 2, with Greuther Fürth earning automatic promotion to the Bundesliga and Holstein Kiel left to play a play-off against Cologne. - © Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images
Bochum were crowned champions of Bundesliga 2, with Greuther Fürth earning automatic promotion to the Bundesliga and Holstein Kiel left to play a play-off against Cologne. - © Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images
bundesliga

Bundesliga 2: how promotion was decided on the final day

It's went down to the final day in Bundesliga 2 in 2020/21 as Bochum, Holstein Kiel and Greuther Fürth competed for two automatic promotion places.

The top two were guaranteed their place in the Bundesliga for 2021/22, while the team that finished third faced a two-legged play-off against Cologne, who finished 16th in the Bundesliga, to determine the final outcome of who goes up and who goes down.

bundesliga.com looks at how the final day unfolded, with three teams jostling for a shot in the big time...

Bochum

Final position: 1st (automatic promotion as champions)
Points:
67
Goal difference:
+27

What they needed: One of the oldest sports clubs in Germany needed a point on the final day at home to Sandhausen to be sure of their return to the Bundesliga for the first time since 2009/10. They did it in style, though, with a 3-1 victory earning them a fourth Bundesliga 2 title, and rendering the results of their rivals Kiel and Fürth cosmetic.

Robert Zulj (l.) and Simon Zoller (r.) have been the mainstay of the Bochum attack in 2020/21. - CB via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Claus Bergmann

Key man: Few players have shown such an all-round attacking threat in the second tier this season as Robert Zulj. The former Hoffenheim and Union Berlin man enjoyed the best campaign of his career with 15 goals and 13 assists, fittingly scoring the goal which secured Bochum's return to the Bundesliga. He had a direct hand in almost half of Bochum's 66 league goals.

Final result: 3-1 win v Sandhausen

Greuther Fürth

Final position: 2nd (automatic promotion)
Points:
64
Goal difference:
+25

What they needed: Fürth could only get into the top two with a win at home to Fortuna Düsseldorf, or with a draw if Kiel lost. The dream of only a second Bundesliga campaign in the club's history, after 2012/13, appeared to be disappearing over the horizon, though, when first Kristoffer Petersen and then Shinta Appelkamp gave Düsseldorf the lead.

Up stepped USMNT international Julian Green to bring the Clover Leaves level with his ninth goal of the season, and even though Kiel were trailing Darmstadt and a draw would have been enough, Dickson Abiama made sure, wrapping up a win and promotion for the Bavarians.

Greuther Fürth celebrated promotion to the Bundesliga with a 3-2 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf on the final day of the season. - CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images

Key man: Captain and striker Branimir Hrgota was the team's top scorer with 16, while American midfielder Green shone brightly with nine goals and a pair of assists, but the star of the show was arguably left-back David Raum. The local boy was an ever-present up until March and topped the assists charts alongside Zulj with 13. The 22-year-old, who was also part of Stefan Kuntz's Germany squad at the 2021 UEFA European U21 Championship group stage during the March internationals, will join Hoffenheim next season.

Final result: 3-2 win v Fortuna Düsseldorf

Holstein Kiel

Final position: 3rd (promotion play-off against Cologne)
Points:
62
Goal difference:
+22

What they needed: Kiel came close to back-to-back promotions with a play-off defeat to Wolfsburg in 2017/18, but after making global headlines this season by knocking holders Bayern Munich out of the DFB Cup, it looked like their name was finally destined to become the 57th ever to play in the Bundesliga.

Their destiny was in their own hands: a win over Darmstadt - who were safe in mid-table - would have taken them up, regardless of results elsewhere. But despite boasting the tightest defence in the league with only 32 goals conceded, they were breached three times in the space of 25 second-half minutes, after Janni Serra had given them the lead.

Fin Bartels got them a second late on, but even a draw would not have been enough, with Fürth's win against Fortuna Düsseldorf seeing them snatch second place, and sending Kiel into a play-off with Cologne.

Kiel centre-back Hauke Wahl will have to lift himself and his team up from the disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion for when they face Cologne in a play-off for a place in the Bundesliga next season. - Martin Rose/Getty Images

Key man: Holstein are all about control, boasting the meanest defence in the division, but also being the lowest scorers among the top three. When things are tight, you turn to your captain, who in Kiel is Hauke Wahl. The centre-back is the only player at the club to have played every minute in all competitions this season, most famously scoring the 95th-minute equaliser against Bayern to take the game to extra-time and ultimately penalties. He will now need to pick himself up from the disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion, and try to inspire his team to another win over Bundesliga opponents this season when they face Cologne.

Final result: 3-2 defeat to Darmstadt