"We're all really happy – it was an emotional roller-coaster today. We've achieved our objective and I'm really proud of my team," declared Bayer 04 coach Verena Hagedorn who also found it difficult to believe the achievement as she joked: "It will take a couple of days for my adrenaline levels to get back to normal."
The team coached by Hagedorn only needed one win on the third-last matchday to seal promotion under their own steam and avoid being caught by arch rivals in the promotion race FC Saarbrücken. As so often this season, the Bayer 04 Women made it exciting in the game against SC Freiburg II. "I didn't expect anything else and I know that from our recent matches," smiled Hagedorn. The visitors made the brighter start to the game in the first half and Anna Klink's goal was under threat in the opening minutes. "It'll soon be in the net," thought Hagedorn during that phase of the game. However, her team found the right way of taking control over SC as they gain the upper hand for the rest of the game. A closely fought first half ended with the score at 0-0.
"In the second half we allowed Freiburg to mount one or two attacks," said Hagedorn. "We lost the ball too much and then often had to chase it down." While it was the Black and Reds who pressed forward, the first goal of the game was scored by the visitors in a counter-attack by Vanessa Ziegler on 78 minutes. Leverkusen hit straight back: One minute later Barba Reger took advantage of open space. She won the ball in midfield, dribbled through unchallenged and slotted the ball into the net to make it 1-1 on 79 minutes.
The final minutes were incredibly exciting. Merle Barth could have sealed it with a free-kick from a good position but her effort hit the bar. Shortly after that, a shot from Louise Ringsing hit the woodwork as did the effort on the rebound with the coaching staff and subs up on their feet.
The long-awaited winner came in added time: Ringsing took the final set piece on 92 minutes - Frederike Kempe leapt into the air to head the ball into the net at the far post – 2-1.
The final whistle was hard to hear amongst the shouts of joy. Kempe was submerged by the celebrating Leverkusen women.
"It was crazy," said Hagedorn in describing the scenes after the end of the game. And the scorer of the winning goal was in seventh heaven after the final whistle: "I don't score very often – and now to get the winner is incredibly cool, simply stunning. We achieved our objective for the season today. It's not been an easy campaign and we've often made it hard for ourselves but we never let our heads drop. It was very tight today but we're all relieved to have been able to secure promotion. The pressure's off - now we can enjoy the last two games."
An official promotion party is planned for the end of the season. "Today the girls are celebrating with each other - and they should do as they've earned it. Now they'll have a few days off," said Hagedorn.
Even though promotion is guaranteed as is third place ahead of the Hoffenheim and Bayern reserve teams (not entitled to be promoted) , the season still has to be finished. Next Sunday, 6 May,The newly promoted team take on VfL Sindelfingen Ladies. The game kicks off at 14.00 CET.
Bayer 04: Klink - Kempe, Sahlmann (Finestra 46'), Ringsing, Friedrich (Heß 46') - Prinz, Bokanovic, Reger, Barth - Uebach (Wich 78'), Gier
SC Freiburg II: Straub - Karl, Heizler (Boldt 83'), Gutmann, Streng - Hausen, Krüger (Ziegler 76')- Züfle, Eckerle, Müller (Zimmermann 67') - Borges
Goals: 0-1 Ziegler (78'), 1-1 Reger (79'), 2-1 Kempe (90+2')
Booked: Uebach, Streng
Referee: Sina Diekmann (Essen)
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