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Holstein Kiel promoted to Bundesliga for first time

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Holstein Kiel reached the Bundesliga for the first time in their history following a 1-1 draw with Fortuna Duesseldorf on Saturday, capping a remarkable rise from the German fourth division over the last decade.

Kiel went into the game needing only a point against promotion rivals Fortuna to secure a historic promotion and they took the lead inside two minutes through striker Benedikt Pichler.

Duesseldorf’s Christos Tzolis restored parity from the penalty spot in the 70th minute following an on-field video review, setting the stage for a tense finale.

But Kiel survived a Duesseldorf onslaught, which secures Marcel Rapp’s side at least second place in the final standings and a debut season in the Bundesliga next season.

“When I looked at the field and I saw all the people on it, I thought I was in a dream,” Kiel midfielder Philipp Sander told Sky Sports Germany after Kiel fans invaded the pitch at full-time.

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“We’ve kept a very low profile over the last few weeks and I think everyone has had a few dreams, but didn’t quite want to believe it yet because we all thought, if you open your mouth too early, it might go wrong. Now we’ve just done it and it is unbelievable!”

Kiel’s journey completes a wild decade that has seen them rise from Regionalliga North, the fourth tier of German football, to the Bundesliga in just 11 seasons.

Holstein Kiel had twice come close to promotion to the Bundesliga in recent years, finishing third in 2017/18 and again in 2020/21, but both times lost out in the play-off.

The result is also significant for St Pauli, who can secure a return to Germany’s top flight after a 13-year absence with a victory at home to bottom-team VfL Osnabrueck on Sunday.

A St Pauli victory would also see them go into the final weekend a point clear of Kiel and in pole position to go up as champions.

Fortuna Duesseldorf’s failure to win in Kiel all but ends their hopes of automatic promotion, with the Bundesliga relegation play-off almost certainly awaiting them.

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