After promotion joy last year comes relegation pain for Frauen-Bundesliga bottom two, writes Martin Whiteley.
Going into the final matchday there were still two important outcomes to be resolved at either end of the Frauen-Bundesliga table.
Champions Wolfsburg also knew they could achieve the feat of an unbeaten league campaign if they did not fall at the final hurdle.
The battle for second place — which also carried the added incentive of being the final qualifying slot to play Champions League football next season — was one of the positions yet to be finalised.
Two sides were still in with a chance to gain that spot and they were separated by a couple of points.
The advantage was in the favour of Bayern Munich who had 51 points and they faced a trip to play SGS Essen in matchday 22.
Hoffenheim the side that hoped they could make a late run and also knew if Bayern and they ended level on points it was them who had the slightly better goal difference. The team third in the table also finished their campaign on their travels.
Knowing nothing less than a victory would do for Hoffenheim they suffered the worst possible start when Turbine Potsdam scored in the opening minute.
The visitors were able to level things up as the game approached the 20-minute mark, but an 80th-minute strike from Laura Lindner gave Turbine a 2-1 success and ended the European hopes of Hoffenheim. The victory for the hosts moved them onto 37 points and saw them secure fourth-place.
Even if Hoffenheim had claimed a win Bayern Munich still took care of their own business to make sure it was themselves and Wolfsburg that would be the German Champions League representatives for the sixth consecutive season.
Unlike Bayern Munich who had a full week to prepare for their final contest, SGS Essen had already played on Wednesday in a rearranged home game against already relegated USV Jena.
It was a fixture that was not without its problems too. Down at the interval, the hosts finally managed to break the resistance of their opponents in the 64th minute to gain a 1-1 draw which moved them up a place to fourth in the table with 35 points.
Despite their extra midweek exertion — and maybe thoughts of their upcoming cup final against Wolfsburg — the hosts were able to stay on level terms with Bayern until deep into first-half stoppage time.
Lina Magull with a fantastic free-kick to set the visitors on their way to a 3-0 success. With this victory, Bayern stretched their unbeaten league run to 16 games. This loss for SGS Essen saw their three-game unbeaten run come to an end and also saw them drop a spot in the final classification.
At the other end of the table, three teams could still have mathematically joined USV Jena in the second-tier next season. It was more realistically though a two-horse race between MSV Duisburg and Cologne — both on 14 points — who would fall through the trap door when the final calculations were completed.
Ninth-placed Bayer Leverkusen not only had a three-point advantage over their two rivals, but their goal-difference was significantly superior too — and that proved vital.
An away trip to face Wolfsburg proved fruitless in terms of points as the hosts completed their undefeated league campaign to end with 62 points. The 5-0 result, however, did not prove fatal for Bayer as they only fell one place in the final standings and were able to preserve their top-flight status for another season.
Tenth in the table MSV Duisburg also had a much better goal-difference than Cologne, who occupied the second relegation place as the last round of fixtures started.
A 2-0 win for MSV Duisburg away to USV Jena — who finished the season with four points — made sure their goal-difference moved further in the right direction to advance them up a spot in the final standings.
A three-game unbeaten run at the start of the resumption of play looked to have given Cologne some breathing space in their bid to beat the drop. Unfortunately for them, a stretch of three straight losses put Cologne back in trouble.
Even a 1-0 win at home to SC Sand on the final day thanks to a goal from Amber Barrett just past the hour-mark could not save them from relegation. The goal-difference for Cologne was -38 against that of -29 for Bayer Leverkusen. SC Sand ended the season eighth in the table with 25 points.
FFC Frankfurt hosted Freiburg in the only game of the round without any Champions League or relegation implications attached to it. The home side started play in sixth place with 33 points. Freiburg five points and one place below their opponents in the standings.
Both sides had lost their last two outings, but a 2-0 victory for Freiburg saw them end on a positive note.
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