Hertha Berlin make triumphant top flight return

GELSENKIRCHEN - Hertha Berlin booked their place in the Bundesliga next season after clinching promotion with three games left to play following a 1-0 win at German Cup finalists Duisburg.

Hertha, who almost qualified for the Champions League in 2009, were relegated a year later after selling several top players, becoming the only major European capital without a top flight football team.

"We are extremely happy," said sports director Michael Preetz. "It is not understood that you go up straight after going down but we kept calm, worked hard. It was a damn hard year but our work paid off."

With travelling fans wearing T-shirts reading "No more second division", the Berliners needed just one point to secure promotion but made sure of their 21st win in 31 games when Adrian Ramos fired in the winner in the 27th minute.

After parting ways with coach Friedhelm Funkel following their relegation, the Berliners brought in former VfB Stuttgart coach Markus Babbel, who guided them to the top of the second division after only five games this season and they stayed there for almost every single week since then.

The second division leaders, who have a seven-point lead over second-placed Augsburg, secured promotion after opening up a 12-point gap over third placed VfL Bochum with three games to spare.

The top two teams go up with the third-placed club playing a promotion playoff against the Bundesliga club that will finish in third place off the bottom.