bundesliga, 2. Bundesliga

Bochum stun Fortuna Düsseldorf on penalties to survive play-off scare


Bochum will remain in the Bundesliga for the 2024/25 season after producing an astonishing comeback in the promotion/relegation play-off second leg, ultimately beating Fortuna Düsseldorf on penalties after cancelling out a 3-0 first-leg deficit.

Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-3 Bochum (3-3 on aggregate; Bochum win 6-5 on penalties)
Goals: 0-1 Hofmann 18' (assist: Stöger), 0-2 Hofmann 66' (assist: Stöger), 0-3 Stöger (pen. 70')

Buoyed by the security of their 3-0 win in the first leg last week, Düsseldorf began confidently and sent out a statement of their intent inside the first minute when Ao Tanaka’s deflected effort from just outside the penalty box went narrowly wide. Undeterred and with no time to lose, Bochum gradually seized the initiative as they sought a way back into the tie and Kevin Stöger soon had a long-range shot himself, his drive whistling just off target. The Austrian was involved again when Bochum took the lead, his teasing delivery from a deep free-kick headed in from close range by Philipp Hofmann. The visitors remained on the front foot – even if their attacks were punctuated by frequent forward bursts on the counter by Düsseldorf – and Lukas Daschner almost reduced the deficit further on the stroke of half-time with a looping effort that just went the wrong side of the post.

The match followed the same pattern after the break and Fortuna needed a superb last-ditch lunge from Tim Oberdorf to thwart Daschner from close range, denying what looked certain to be Bochum’s second goal of the night. The away side did not have to wait long to change all that, however, with the complexion of the game changing completely over a four-minute spell. First, Stöger fizzed an inviting cross from the right into the box for Hofmann to head in his second of the game, leaving Bochum needing just one more goal to level the tie on aggregate. They found it moments later when Stöger converted from the penalty spot after a handball decision against Matthias Zimmermann. They very nearly completed the turnaround seconds after that when substitute Takuma Asano’s header drew a brilliant diving save from Florian Kastenmeier

Asano was in the thick of the action again as the final whistle approached, only narrowly missing Patrick Osterhage’s ball across the six-yard box. That took the match to extra-time, where Bochum needed two dramatic goal-line clearances in the second half to stay afloat, before they eventually edged the tie in the most dramatic of fashions on penalties, with Takashi Uchino missing the decisive spot-kick after seven attempts each.

Watch: Bero: “When you believe, anything is possible”

Match stats

  • Hofmann scored his fifth and sixth competitive goals of the season. All six have come since the winter break, four of which have been headers. 
  • Bochum scored 13 of their 42 goals (31 percent) from set pieces in the Bundesliga in 2023/24, and added another to that tally here. 
  • Stöger's assists took him into double digits for the season (11).
  • The promotion/relegation play-off had only ever gone to extra-time once since the fixture’s reintroduction in 2009; in 2014/15 Hamburg scored a last-minute equaliser against Karlsruhe and went on to win in 120 minutes.
  • This was the first time a play-off has gone to penalties since the fixture’s reintroduction. Prior to that, it was in in 1987/88, when Bundesliga side Waldhof Mannheim got the better of Darmstadt.
  • Bochum’s only previous play-off tie since the fixture's re-introduction in 2008/09 saw them fail in their bid for promotion in 2010/11, losing 2-1 on aggregate to Borussia Mönchengladbach.


Düsseldorf: Kastenmeier (c) - Zimmermann, Oberdorf, De Wijs (Hoffmann 97'), Iyoha - Engelhardt, Tanaka (Bergmann Jóhannesson 75') - Klaus (Niemiec 75'), Sobottka (Uchino 83'), Tzolis - Vermeij (Daferner 83')
Unused subs: Niemczycki, Quarshie, Appelkamp, Mustapha
Out: Siebert (thigh)
Coach: Daniel Thioune

Bochum: Luthe - Oermann (Loosli 58'), Ordets, Schlotterbeck, Wittek - Losilla (c) (Mašović 99'), Bero - Passlack (Asano 58'), Stöger (c), Daschner (Osterhage 82') - Hofmann (Paciência 90'+7)
Unused subs: Thiede, Gamboa, Römling, Elezi
Out: Antwi-Adjei (injured), Bernardo (suspended), Broschinski (injured), Esser (knee), Förster (hip), Kwarteng (knee), Riemann (not included), Tolba (knee)
Coach: Heiko Butscher

Watch: First-leg highlights

First-leg report

Fortuna Düsseldorf took a huge step towards earning a place in the Bundesliga for 2023/24 with a comprehensive 3-0 win at Bochum in the first leg of their play-off tie.

Bochum 0-3 Fortuna Düsseldorf
Goals: 0-1 Hofmann (o.g. 13'), 0-2 Klaus 64' (assist: Tzolis), 0-3 Engelhardt (72')

With so much at stake, it was perhaps inevitable that the match would begin at a frenetic pace, the players whipped into a frenzy by the home crowd. Bochum had a succession of shots blocked following a Kevin Stöger corner early on before Fortuna stunned their hosts by taking the lead. Christos Tzolis caught Bochum goalkeeper Andreas Luthe off guard by going straight for goal with a corner from the left, his delivery hitting the near post, ricocheting off Philipp Hofmann and bobbling over the line. The hosts almost replied instantly, with Bernardo hitting the woodwork from another Stöger corner just moments later, while Stöger himself narrowly missed the target with a devilish free-kick. There was little else to see in the final third from Düsseldorf, although Tzolis was lively throughout down the left and sent a couple of efforts from distance over the bar.

Bochum began the second half determined to make amends and they were camped out in the Düsseldorf half initially, albeit without making any serious inroads towards the Fortuna goal. The complexion of the game – and indeed the tie – then changed completely in an eight-minute spell when Tzolis lead a counter-attack down the left before threading a superb pass through to Felix Klaus to slot in. Tzolis was involved in his side’s third shortly afterwards, drilling a brilliantly disguised free-kick at goal, sending Luthe scrambling to save it – and presenting Yannik Engelhardt with a simple tap in to make it 3-0. Klaus almost added a fourth in the closing stages when his shot on the turn hit the post, denying his side what would surely have been the knockout blow. As it stands, however, Düsseldorf have one foot in the Bundesliga ahead of the return leg on Monday.