23.05.2024 23:00 h

Duesseldorf down Bochum to put one foot in Bundesliga

Fortuna Duesseldorf are one game away from returning to the Bundesliga for the first time in four years after a 3-0 win at Bochum in the relegation play-off first leg on Thursday.

Duesseldorf host Bochum in the second leg on Monday and would be just the fourth second-flight side to win the two-legged playoff since it was re-introduced in 2008-09.

The relegation playoff features the team which finished third from bottom in the top division against the third-placed second-division team.

"It's only half time. It's a good first leg result, no question about it. We have to go in on Monday with the same passion," Duesseldorf's Marcel Sobottka told Sat.1.

"We're happy about the win and are enjoying the evening, But from tomorrow it's time for full recovery."

Duesseldorf have not lost in the league since February, with their only defeat in that time coming in the German Cup against Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen.

"It's difficult to talk after a game like that. The boys should work their asses off on Monday, hope dies last," said Bochum's Keven Schlotterbeck.

"We don't want to go down like that."

With current Bayern Munich midfielder and Bochum junior Leon Goretzka kitted out in the home team's colours and watching from the stands, Duesseldorf took the lead in calamitous fashion after just 13 minutes.

Cristos Tzolis, Duesseldorf's top scorer this season, swung in a quickly taken corner which rebounded off Philipp Hofmann's leg and into goal.

The visitors doubled up shortly into the second half, Felix Klaus finishing off a length-of-the field counter.

Yannik Engelhardt pounced on a rebound from a Tzolis free-kick with 18 minutes remaining, handing Duesseldorf a major advantage in their bid to return to the top division for the first time since being relegated in 2019-20.

While the top-league side has historically had a clear advantage in the end-of-season match, one of the three teams to have won promotion via the play-off was Duesseldorf.

Duesseldorf triumphed over two legs against Hertha Berlin in 2011-12 to win promotion.

Union Berlin, who leapfrogged Bochum out of the third-last spot on the final matchday, were the last second-division team to win promotion via the playoff, doing so on away goals in 2019.

With the away goals rule abolished, Duesseldorf will secure promotion on Monday by winning, drawing or by losing by fewer than two goals.