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Stuttgart wins playoff, prolongs Hamburg’s wait to rejoin Bundesliga

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) – Stuttgart ended Hamburger SV’s last hopes of a return to the Bundesliga this year by winning the second leg of their playoff 3-1 on Monday.

Enzo Millot scored twice and Silas Katompa Mvumpa grabbed another to cancel Sonny Kittel’s opening goal and seal a 6-1 win on aggregate for the first-division team.

It’s Hamburg’s second straight failure to clinch promotion in the playoff against the team that finished third from bottom in the Bundesliga and it condemns the former league heavyweight to a sixth season in the second division since its demotion in 2018.

Hamburg, which lost 3-0 in the first leg, needed a good start to keep the raucous supporters’ hopes alive and Kittel provided it in the sixth minute when he left fly with his right boot to send a brilliant shot in off the left post.

Stuttgart’s Serhou Guirassy scores during the Bundesliga relegation playoff second leg between Hamburger SV and VfB Stuttgart at Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, Germany on June 5. PHOTO: AP

Serhou Guirassy thought he’d equalised with his heel with Stuttgart’s first attack in the 17th minute, but the goal was ruled out through VAR as he’d originally come from an offside position in the build-up.

The decision prompted more wild celebrations from the home fans and Hamburg coach Tim Walter, and Stuttgart goalkeeper Florian Müller was the busier of the two before the break, but Hamburg needed goals.

Instead, Guirassy set up Millot to equalise right after the break, and a mistake from goalkeeper Daniel Heuer Fernandes — Hamburg’s best player in the first leg — gifted Millot the second goal to seal the result in the 64th.

Kittel did not appreciate the French midfielder’s celebrations in front of the Hamburg fans, leading to a flare up with rival players rushing to join the melee. Referee Bastian Dankert responded with two yellow cards for each side.

Silas scored Stuttgart’s third in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Stuttgart players celebrated in front of the visiting fans — though not with them as they were surrounded by lines of riot police.

Hamburg, the last remaining founding member of the Bundesliga, finished fourth or third every season since its demotion to the second division. Only the top two are promoted automatically.

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