By Chris Wright
The Bundesliga relegation/promotion play-off (the third-bottom team in the Bundesliga play two legs against the side which finished third in 2. Bundesliga) between Fortuna Dusseldorf and Hertha Berlin ended in chaos last night when hordes of Fortuna fans invaded the pitch, let of flares and began tearing up the turf before the final whistle had actually sounded.
With second tier Fortuna carrying a 2-1 lead over from the first leg and then scoring within 50 secs of the second, things were looking bleak for Hertha, whose fans repeatedly interrupted the game be throwing flares onto the pitch.
Hertha then equalised before having a man sent off early in the second half, with Fortuna quickly restoring their lead to put themselves 2-1 up on the night and 4-2 up on aggregate. There was still time for another Hertha equaliser five minutes from time but, at 2-2 and 4-3 overall, relegation looked imminent.
What then followed was seven minutes of stoppage time due to the earlier disturbances, with the fevered Fortuna fans positioning themselves around the perimeter of the pitch ready to charge on at the final whistle. Unfortunately, their frayed nerves got the better of them and the dam burst with two minutes left to play. Fans thundered onto the pitch, letting off yet more flares and smoke bombs, with some tearing up swatches of turf to take home as a memento.
The players, some of whom were attempting to clear the throng themselves, were ushered back into the changing rooms and forced to wait for 30 minutes while the pitch was cleared before returning to play out the final two minutes of injury time – after which, Fortuna could properly celebrate their promotion to the Bundesliga!
Quite the time-wasting technique there. Beats ‘running it into the corner’ into a cocked hat! Absolutely barmy.