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Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo described his feelings of “ecstasy” after his team’s Bundesliga survival was secured with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Cologne.
VfB was destined for a relegation play-off that went into overtime on Saturday with the score locked at 1-1, despite rivals Hertha Berlin being behind in Borussia Dortmund.
Stuttgart needed just one goal to secure Bundesliga safety, and with goalkeeper Florian Muller – whose mistakes had put them in such great danger – up to the corner kick, it came too late.
Wataru Endo spearheaded the winner of the 92nd minute, which triggered mass celebration scenes and sentenced Hertha to the playoffs – not that Matarazzo knew his hero’s identity in the midst of the carnage.
The coach ran onto the pitch with his replacements – and Stuttgart mascot Fritzle, a giant, fluffy crocodile.
“I can not even remember who scored the goal,” Matarazzo told Sky Sport. “I do not remember what happened.
Suddenly I only see that Fritzle is lying on me. It was a great moment for all the players, for all the fans and all part of the club. “
– Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) May 14, 2022
Stuttgart were Dortmund grateful for their role in the escape, where Hertha had led to over the hour mark at Westfalenstadion, where the outgoing Erling Haaland equalized.
“The boys certainly noticed the result,” Matarazzo said. “For every goal Dortmund scored, the players had more courage.
“It was an absolute goal of will in the end. I’m very happy for the boys.”
He added: “I have a headache after all that shouting and cheering. It was ecstasy, an amazing moment, unique. I am so happy for the boys. You will never forget a moment like today.”