Fortuna Dusseldorf's Bundesliga promotion/relegation playoff against Hertha Berlin teetered on the edge of mayhem before eventually succumbing to a premature pitch invasion that probably helped them hold on for the victory.
Dusseldorf won the first leg 2-1 and took a quick lead in the second leg by scoring in the first minute. Hertha would equalize, but had a man sent off in the 54th minute and Dusseldorf scored again just five minutes later, prompting anxious Hertha fans to throw flares on the pitch. And even after Hertha scored in the 85th minute to put the second leg level at 2-2, Hertha fans still threw more flares, pushing referee Wolfgang Stark to add seven minutes of stoppage time.
Dusseldorf fans encroached on the pitch as Hertha threatened to score again and with a minute left to play, they broke through and started tearing out chunks of grass. From Soccernet:
Hundreds of fans stormed on to the field of play with one minute of the game still to be played.
The teams were forced to leave the pitch as stewards and police tried to send the fans back into the stands, forcing a delay of 15 minutes while order was restored.
Both sides eventually emerged with Hertha seeming reluctant to return to play out the remaining 60 seconds before another pitch invasion greeted the final whistle, with Dusseldorf returning to the Bundesliga in dramatic circumstances.
So Dusseldorf replace Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga and the early pitch invasion proves to be the very best way to protect a slim lead late in a match.