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VfL Bochum's miraculous comeback secures Bundesliga stay

VfL Bochum clinched their Bundesliga spot for 2024/25 with an epic comeback against Fortuna Dusseldorf in the promotion/relegation play-off second leg.

Overcoming a 3-0 first-leg deficit, Bochum triumphed 6-5 in a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.

Dusseldorf, confident from their commanding first-leg victory, started strongly with an early effort from Ao Tanaka narrowly missing the target. However, Bochum, determined to claw back into the tie, steadily gained momentum.

Kevin Stoger, instrumental in Bochum's resurgence, initiated the breakthrough with a pinpoint free-kick that Philipp Hofmann headed home in the 18th minute.

Despite Dusseldorf's counter-attacks, Bochum maintained their attacking pressure. Lukas Daschner almost scored before half-time with a looping shot that grazed past the post. The second half saw more of the same intensity. Tim Oberdorf's crucial tackle denied Daschner a sure goal, but Bochum soon turned the game on its head.

In the 66th minute, Stoger delivered another precise cross that Hofmann headed in for his second goal, making the aggregate score 3-2.

Just four minutes later, a handball by Matthias Zimmermann gave Bochum a penalty, which Stoger confidently converted to level the aggregate score at 3-3. Bochum nearly sealed the comeback immediately after when Takuma Asano's header forced a spectacular save from Florian Kastenmeier.

As the clock ticked down, Asano remained a threat, narrowly missing a cross from Patrick Osterhage. Extra-time saw both teams fight for survival, with Bochum needing two crucial goal-line clearances to keep their hopes alive.

The tie was ultimately decided by penalties. After a tense shootout, Takashi Uchino's miss for Dusseldorf handed Bochum a dramatic 6-5 victory on penalties, sparking jubilant celebrations from the away side.

"To come back from 3-0 down is just incredible," said Bochum coach Thomas Letsch. "The team showed immense character and determination."

With this miraculous turnaround, Bochum not only preserved their Bundesliga status but also etched their comeback into the annals of football history.

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