bundesliga, 2. Bundesliga

VfB Stuttgart retain Bundesliga status at Hamburg's expense


VfB Stuttgart secured their place in the 2023/24 Bundesliga thanks to a comfortable 6-1 aggregate win over Hamburg in the promotion/ relegation play-off.

Hamburg 1-3 VfB Stuttgart (agg. 1-6)
Goals: 1-0
Kittel 6' (assist: Dompe), 1-1 Millot 48' (assist: Guirassy), 1-2 Millot 64', 1-3 Silas (90'+7)

Needing to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit, Tim Walter's Hamburg made the perfect start. Shortly after Jean-Luc Dompe had tested Florian Müller with a swerving free-kick, Sonny Kittel smashed in an 18-yard strike off the inside of the far post to send the home fans into raptures. Daniel Heuer Fernandes saved well at his near post as Chris Führich went close to silencing the Volkspark-Stadion from the restart. Serhou Guirassy did just that with a sublime back-heeled finish with 16 minutes on the clock, but the goal was ruled out for offside upon VAR review. Heuer Fernandes almost shot himself in the foot after being caught on the ball in his own box by Enzo Millot, only to recover in time to clear. Guirassy and Robert Glatzel traded well-struck shots from range, while Müller had to be alert to stop a Bakery Jatta header from being turned home from close range late in a frenetic first half.

Hamburg's good work was undone within three minutes of the restart. Guirassy was involved again, collecting the ball in the penalty area before squaring to Millot to squeeze a shot through the legs of Heuer Fernandes. With a 4-1 aggregate lead for comfort, Stuttgart proceeded to sit back and soak up everything HSV threw their way, patiently awaiting any openings on the break. Heuer Fernandes provided one such moment when he miscued an attempted clearance, allowing Millot to complete his brace with a routine finish into the unguarged goal and all but end the tie as a contest. Glatzel, Kittel and Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer were unfortunate not to at least reduce the arrears in the closing stages as Stuttgart - who added a late third on the night through substitute Silas' fine solo effort - celebrated a job well done. As for Port City club Hamburg, they remain anchored in Bundesliga 2 for the sixth season in a row.

Match stats

  • Stuttgart have a fourth straight season of Bundesliga football to look forward to.
  • Die Schwaben are the first team two win both legs in the promotion/relegation play-off since Wolfsburg did so in 2018 against Holstein Kiel.
  • VfB have only lost two of their 12 competitive fixtures since Hoeneß took charge on 3 April. They were bottom of the Bundesliga table when he replaced Bruno Labbadia as head coach.
  • All three of Millot's goals this season have come under Hoeneß. The youngest player on the pitch (20), the Frenchman also scored his first Stuttgart brace.
  • Hamburg have missed out on promotion via the play-offs for two seasons running. They suffered a 2-1 aggregate loss to Hertha Berlin at the end of 2021/22.
  • Only three Bundesliga 2 teams have won promotion via the play-off since it was reinstated 14 years ago: Nuremberg in 2009, Fortuna Düsseldorf in 2013 and Union Berlin in 2019.


Hamburg: Heuer Fernandes - Heyer (Mikelbrencis 69'), Montero (Königsdörffer 72'), Schonlau (c), Muheim - Meffert (Bilbija 67'), Kittel, Reis - Jatta, Glatzel, Dompe
Unused subs: Raab, Zumberi, Kisilowski, Heil, Krahn, Sanne
Out: Benes (thigh), David (illness), Katterbach (cruciate ligament), Megeed (torn ligament), Nemeth (ankle), Suhonen (suspended), Vuskovic (suspended)
Coach: Tim Walter

Stuttgart: Müller - Mavropanos (Zagadou 46'), Anton, Ito - Vagnoman (Silas 82'), Karazor, Endo (c), Sosa (Nartey 67') - Millot (Tomas 66'), Guirassy (Pfeiffer 66'), Führich
Unused subs: Seimen, Stenzel, Haraguchi, Egloff
Out: Bredlow (knee), Kastanaras (foot)
Coach: Sebastian Hoeneß

Watch: Stuttgart romped to a 3-0 win in the first leg

First-leg report

VfB Stuttgart 3-0 Hamburg
Goals: 1-0 Mavropanos 1’ (assist: Sosa), 2-0 Vagnoman 51’ (assist: Millot), 3-0 Guirassy 54' (assist: Sosa)
Red card: Suhonen 69'

The battle between two former Bundesliga champions for one top-flight spot in 2023/24 always promised to be dramatic - and it more than lived up to its billing. A mere 47 seconds were on the clock by the time Konstantinos Mavropanos sent a bullet header from a corner into the top right of the net to serve up a dream start for the hosts. Stuttgart continued to have the better of an open first phase, with Chris Führich having a shot turned behind from a tight angle by Daniel Heuer Fernandes. Serhou Guirassy spurned a big chance to double the lead midway through the first half, firing at Heuer Fernandes with plenty of time to contemplate his shot when through on the target. Heuer Fernandes leapt to deny Guirassy again from the penalty spot minutes later, after Ludovit Reis had tripped Enzo Millot. The Hamburg goalkeeper then stopped Führich as the flurry of Stuttgart opportunities continued. The Bundesliga 2 side grew into the game before the break, with impressive intensity but no real chances. The final opening of the half fell to Mavropanos, who headed just wide from a free-kick.

Stuttgart took their energetic approach into the start of the second period, threatening from two early corners. Führich and Wataru Endo then opened up Hamburg with a slick attacking move that saw the Japanese player lay the ball across for Josha Vagnoman to make it two against his former club. Guirassy promptly sent another commanding header into the net from a corner to put the hosts 3-0 up. Robert Glatzel was denied by a sprawling Florian Müller save as Hamburg tried to gain a lifeline. That proved to be only a brief interlude to Stuttgart's continued dominance, though. Mavropanos had another headed opening, before Anssi Suhonen was sent off for Hamburg for kicking Vagnoman just minutes after coming on as a substitute. The 10 men of Hamburg did rally somewhat with a late attacking spell, but Mavropanos had yet another chance late on to extend the hosts' lead heading wide. The tie is now Stuttgart's to lose as they take their three-goal lead to the second leg in Hamburg's Volksparkstadion on Monday.


Stuttgart: Müller - Mavropanos, Anton (Zagadou 90'+2), Ito - Vagnoman, Karazor (Nartey 84'), Endo (c), Sosa - Millot (Egloff 84'), Guirassy (Pfeiffer 68'), Führich (Tomas 68')
Unused subs: Selmen, Stenzel, Coulibaly, Silas
Out: Bredlow (knee), Kastanaras (foot)
Coach: Sebastian Hoeneß

Hamburg: Heuer Fernandes - Heyer, David, Schonlau (c), Muheim - Meffert, Kittel, Reis (Suhonen 60') - Jatta, Glatzel, Dompe (Königsdörffer 65')
Unused subs: Raab, Mikelbrencis, Montero, Kisilowski, Bilbija, Heil, Krahn,
Out: Benes (thigh), Katterbach (cruciate ligament), Megeed (torn ligament), Nemeth (ankle), Vuskovic (suspended)
Coach: Tim Walter