BERLIN: Former Germany striker Mario Gomez (pix) scored in his farewell match on Sunday as VfB Stuttgart were promoted back into the Bundesliga while SV Hamburg missed out for the second straight year after a shocking home defeat.
Gomez, 34, who won the Bundesliga with Stuttgart in 2007 and is expected to end his career, netted in a 3-1 defeat against Darmstadt which the second-placed hosts could however afford in their return into the top flight along with champions Arminia Bielefeld.
Bielefeld already clinched their return after 11 years last week and ended an impressive second-division campaign top of the pile with just two defeats, beating Heidenheim 3-0 in the finale.
But Heidenheim still finished third for a play-off tie against Werder Bremen because Hamburg were humiliated 5-1 at home by mid-table Sandhausen to finish fourth, as 12 months ago, and now face a third term in the second tier.
Hamburg had only themselves to blame for the latest disaster, having dropped six points alone since the league restart by conceding in stoppage time - including in defeats in Stuttgart and Heidenheim.
On Sunday, they were caught out cold early from an own goal by Rick van Drongelen and Kevin Behrens. Captain Aaron Hunt converted a penalty to revive their hopes but Behrens’ penalty, Mario Engels and ex-Hamburg player Dennis Dieckmeier in the final eight minutes denied Hamburg the point they would have needed to steal third place.
Heidenheim, from a town of 50,000 in southern Germany, can meanwhile reach the Bundesliga for the first time after five seasons in the second tier, with the play-offs against third-last Bundesliga side Bremen set for July 2 and 6.
In the lowlands, Nuremberg are in danger of a second straight relegation as they finished 16th for a play-off against the third-placed third-tier team. Wehen Wiesbaden and Dynamo Dresden were relegated. – dpa