When relegation was confirmed at 9:24 p.m., the Darmstadt team fell to the ground in disappointment. Coach Torsten Lieberknecht tried to build up his team in a group of players with emotional words. There was encouraging applause and loud shouts of “lilies” from the stands.

But that couldn’t change the painful fact: SV Darmstadt 98 was prematurely relegated from the Bundesliga. At the end of the 31st matchday, the bottom team lost to 1. FC Heidenheim 0-1 (0-0) in their own stadium and can therefore no longer keep the league mathematically.

With three match days still remaining, the gap to relegation place 16 is eleven points. The goal for the guests from Baden-Württemberg, who were practically saved, was scored by Nikola Dovedan (90th). “It’s going to be difficult that we can’t keep the league anymore. I won’t be able to prevent that either,” said FCH coach Frank Schmidt with a smile.

Darmstadt residents miss opportunities

Darmstadt’s new sporting director, Paul Fernie, made it clear before the game against Heidenheim that, from the club’s perspective, Torsten Lieberknecht should remain as coach in the 2nd league. “There are no question marks from my side at all when it comes to Torsten at the moment. We have built up a relationship on equal terms relatively quickly. We talk often and the conversations so far have only been positive. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with him,” said Fernie on the streaming service DAZN.

In any case, the Darmstadt team did not lack a fighting attitude in front of 17,416 spectators against Heidenheim. “For us it’s about continuing to show this attitude,” said Lieberknecht before kick-off. And his players didn’t miss this attitude on the pitch. Despite the almost hopeless situation before the game, the Lilies kept up with the Heidenheimers from the start.

In the 5th minute, Darmstadt’s Fabian Nürnberger had the first good opportunity of the game. His shot whizzed just over the visitors’ goal. The people of Heidenheim were also slowly approaching. First a shot from Tim Kleindienst went just wide of the goal (16th), then Darmstadt goalkeeper Marcel Schuhen defused a header from Patrick Mainka with a great reflex (26th).

Dovedan shocks Lilien late

Almost in return, Nürnberger missed the lead again after strong dribbling and preparatory work by Luca Pfeiffer (27th). The midfielder’s shot once again narrowly missed the goal of Heidenheim’s keeper Kevin Müller. The Heidenheim team’s efficiency in the first half also left a lot to be desired. From a promising position, attacker Marvin Pieringer put his attempt next to the goal (37th).

The Darmstadt team didn’t give up and started the second half with a lot of momentum. Müller just cleared a shot from Tim Skarke for a corner (46′). The Heidenheimers then took control. Dovedan then shocked the home side late on.