Werder Bremen and U.S. national team striker Josh Sargent will remain in the Bundesliga next season after all. Barely.
Werder Bremen edged Heidenheim in the relegation playoff on Monday, riding a third-minute own goal–for which Sargent was an involved party–and a stoppage-time strike to a victory via the away-goal tiebreaker after a 2-2 aggregate draw.
The two clubs entered the second leg after a scoreless first leg on July 2, and it didn’t take long for the visiting side to break through with a valuable away goal. As Sargent took a touch to get in shooting position, Heidenheim defender Norman Theuerkauf fired it away from the American–only to volley it into the back of his own net in the process.
During one few-minute span in the second half, Sargent nearly had a goal and an assist, only for Heidenheim’s goalkeeper to come up with stellar saves on both occasions.
Heidenheim, which missed a couple of gilt-edged chances early in the second half, pulled level on aggregate with five minutes to go, but Werder Bremen all but secured its triumph with a goal from Ludwig Augustinsson in the third minute of stoppage time.
It still left the door open for Heidenheim after conceding a last-gasp penalty that was converted, but the club with the most seasons in the Bundesliga has survived to make it to another.
Werder Bremen went down to the wire in just about every respect as it relates to staying up. It took a win in the Bundesliga season finale and concurrent loss by Fortuna Dusseldorf to get the club out of the automatic drop zone by a single point and into the playoff place to begin with. Then, it bungled the home leg of the playoff against Heidenheim, the third-place finisher in the 2. Bundesliga, settling for a 0-0 draw. Sargent, who came off the bench late in that match, had a chance cleared off the line, while the visitors also had a close call go begging with an opportunity to score what would have been a dagger of an away goal to seize momentum going into the home leg.
Instead, it’s Werder Bremen staying up, Heidenheim staying down and Sargent, who had four goals in all competitions this season, remaining a top-flight player.
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