1. FC Nürnberg are back in the Bundesliga after four years away, beating SV Sandhausen 2-0 to seal promotion from the 2. Bundesliga.
Top scorer and captain Hanno Behrens put them ahead shortly before half-time, with Tim Leibold given them breathing space later on in the second half.
With Fortuna Düsseldorf and Holstein Kiel drawing, Der Club will also go into their final game next Sunday, against Düsseldorf, top of the table on goal difference and they will need just a draw to go up as champions.
Behrens scores again to set Nürnberg on course
Nürnberg needed just to win to seal a return to the Bundesliga and set up a final day title showdown with Düsseldorf, although Kiel dropping points against Düsseldorf would also be enough to send them up anyway. As for Sandhausen, they were the safest of the sides who could still go down, but a win would make sure of their 2. Bundesliga survival for another year. Philipp Klingmann, ex-Nürnberger Rúrik Gíslason and Philipp Förster came in as they made three changes from the defeat at 1. FC Heidenheim, whilst Laszlo Sepsi and Eduard Löwen were brought into Nürnberg’s starting line-up following the victory over Eintracht Braunschweig.
With the sun glaring down on the BWT-Stadion, the first half would prove a slow burner. Nürnberg dominated the proceedings but chances were few and far between. A cross from Sepsi gave them the first opportunity but Mikael Ishak’s downward header proved little trouble for Marcel Schuhen. He then made a more vital save later one, when a header from Tim Leibold had to be parried wide by the Sandhausen goalkeeper.
A foul by Nejmeddin Daghfous on Leibold then set in motion the events leading up to the goal. Enrico Valentini’s free-kick from the left went out off of the Sandhausen wall, but his subsequent corner was much more effective. A powerful header by Georg Margreitter was kept out by Schuhen, only for Behrens to head in his fifth goal in six games to give his side a crucial lead.
Valentini then looked to double the lead all by himself shortly after, but his shot from range was kept out by Schuhen. At the half-time whistle, Nürnberg knew they were going up as it stood, whilst the lack of goals in the game between Düsseldorf and Kiel also meant they were returning top.
Leibold goal seals promotion for Der Club
Sandhausen started the second half in the ascendency. Richard Sukuta-Pasu had an early header kept out by Fabian Bredlow, who had had very little to do in the first half. Gíslason then threatened to come back and haunt the side that left him go in January. Both times though his headers were saved by Bredlow.
Nürnberg had been very quiet in an attacking sense, until a huge double chance to add a cushion to their lead. Kevin Möhwald broke clear and had only Schuhen to beat, but he was denied by the post. He regained possession, being forced wide, and he found Ishak with his cross, but this time Schuhen made the save to keep the score at 1-0 – albeit not for long.
The promotion party for the visiting fans was put into full swing by their team’s second goal. Again they attacked Sandhuasen on the break, with Möhwald’s ball leaving Löwen clear through. He spotted the overlapping run by Leibold though, laying off to him as he approached Schuhen with Leibold doing the rest. Both sides had meanwhile scored in quick succession in Düsseldorf, but it mattered little here.
Michael Köllner's team needed to do nothing else and it was simply a case of playing out the last 15 minutes without any drama. They could have had a third in stoppage timed, when three players broke on the counter, however with a defender getting back, Adam Zrelak fluffed his lines after being set up by Löwen, and was offside in any case.
Nevertheless, the final whistle went moments after, and the Nürnberg dugout, and fans, spilled onto the pitch as the Bundesliga’s ultimate yo-yo club go up once again. As for Sandhausen, despite the defeat, they are safe, although will be concerned after Tim Knipping was stretchered off for an injury sustained in the final moments of the match.