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Bundesliga

Bundesliga history: when Fjortoft wrote his name in Frankfurt folklore

What more can be said about this Saturday's climax? It's set to be just as fascinating as perhaps the most exciting so far: the relegation battle of 1998-99. DW's Ross Dunbar looks back at a special Bundesliga moment.

As far as Great Escapes go, Eintracht Frankfurt's stunning survival on the final day of the 1998-99 Bundesliga season will be forever etched in the memory of those involved.

At the beginning of play on the last matchday, three points separated the bottom five teams in the league - Eintracht Frankfurt, Hansa Rostock, SC Freiburg, VfB Stuttgart and Nuremburg.

Bochum and Borussia Mönchengladbach had already been consigned to relegation: it was the first time the Foals had gone down to the second division in 37 years.

Ten-minute mission

With Hansa Rostock still toiling in Bochum and Nuremburg losing, Frankfurt was safe - for now. And the Eagles didn't rest on their laurels as Marco Gebhardt made it 3-1 against Kaiserslautern with 10 minutes to play.

But with eight minutes left, things got edgy for Frankfurt. Rostock took the lead again, to lead 3-2 in Bochum before Nuremburg pulled a goal back, meaning the relegation battle would now be decided on goal difference.

Frankfurt then was 4-1 ahead with Bernd Schneider cushioning the ball home in his last game for the club ahead of his move to Bayer Leverkusen.

As it stood, with minutes left, Frankfurt was still going down. A 4-1 win over the champions from the previous season hadn't looked like enough - until the 89th minute as the season concluded in the most dramatic fashion.

Down to the wire

Norwegian striker Jan Aage Fjortoft broke through on goal and produced an irresistible step-over, one-touch finish to make it 5-1. That goal would be enough to keep the Eagles up - but there was more drama to come for supporters across the country.

Simultaneously, as Frankfurt scored, Nuremburg's fans suffered relegation with Richard Golz, the Freiburg keeper holding on to the ball fortuitously after Marek Nikl's strike cannoned against the post, then was almost converted on the rebound.

The collective anxiety when the TV footage moves from the scenes of jubilation in Frankfurt to the chaos brewing in Bavaria with Golz scrambling inside his penalty box to keep the ball out is enthralling.

If Saturday - the tightest relegation battle in Bundesliga history - can deliver the same captivating encounters, then we're in for a real treat.