Darmstadt had actually had the better of the first half, with Serdar Dursun having a goal rightly chalked off for offside.
Bielefeld’s lead rarely looked in danger following Prietl’s header early in the second half, leading to celebrations at the final whistle.
Dependable Prietl seals the title
The victory against Dynamo Dresden on Monday night left Bielefeld on the cusp of promotion, with only Hamburger SV realistically able to catch them, due VfB Stuttgart’s inferior goal difference. However Hamburg’s failure to beat VfL Osnabrück on Tuesday night made Bielefeld’s ascent official, although the title was still only on ice before this game.
With the fans unable to be with their team, neither game had a particularly celebratory feel, but even so it will probably be the Dresden one that lives longer in the memory. This was a functional performance and Bielefeld had struggled to carry to momentum in the first half, which Darmstadt came to dominate.
Top scorers Fabian Klos and Andreas Voglsammer had contributed to the effort on Monday, and Prietl, who has served Bielefeld well since joining them four weeks ago, was not an unpopular choice to be the man whose goal sealed the title.
It came soon into the second half, when Darmstadt had still been marginally on top. Marcel Hartel combined on a short corner with Nils Seufert before whipping the ball in. Prietl looked to flick it on towards the far post, but no further touches were required and Marcel Schuhen in the Darmstadt goal was beaten.
Darmstadt have better of first half
Uwe Neuhaus made five changes for this game, rotating out his entire attack, including talisman Klos, whilst bringing back Florian Hartherz in defence. Stephan Salger replaced Joakim Nilsson, who has undergone knee surgery. Patrick Weihrauch also had to replace Cédric Brunner early on due to injury. Dimitrios Grammozis stuck with the back three he tested against Hannover 96 at the weekend with Dario Dumic and Yannick Stark coming in for Patrick Herrmann and the injured Tobias Kempe.
They may not have been at full strength however Bielefeld still started the game strongly. Cebio Soukou got on the end of a long back and a shot saved by Schuhen, before Hartel struck wide shortly after. An attack started at the other end by Stefan Ortega then resulted in his counterpart Schuhen denying Reinhold Yabo.
Bielefeld then thought they had strong grounds for a penalty when Sven Schipplock, making his first league start for the club two years after joining, went down under an apparent challenge from Schuhen. Replays showed he was already going down, and in any case he was offside as well.
Darmstadt were far from passive themselves, with their better chances coming as they began to dominate later in the half. Victor Pálsson had an effort blocked when Serdar Dursun may have been better placed.
Marcel Heller, playing up front alongside Dursun in the 3-5-2, had a couple of chances following that, including a header wide when he thought he had been shoved by Seufert, before he set up Dursun to score, only for it to be disallowed for offside. Dumic then headed over a precise Stark free-kick.
Bielefeld in control after goal
Bielefeld were indebted to Ortega early in the second half as he saved a good strike from Dursun, and after that the momentum began to swing back in favour of Bielefeld. Schipplock set up Seufert for a shot that he put into the side netting, but soon after he was involved in the deciding goal.
Yabo came close to making it two in quick-fire time, coming into the middle before shooting wide. Fabian Schnellhardt had a couple of chances at the other end but didn’t trouble with Ortega with either. Later on, substitute Felix Platte was played through well by Fabian Holland, but a good challenge denied him an effort.
Other than that though, Bielefeld had full control of proceedings, even if they didn’t get too close to a second until the latter stages. It was Prietl again who could have made it two, with one wild effort following by a closer, but still off target, effort. Klos, on for the last 20 minutes, struck over in stoppage time.
Darmstadt could still theoretically have finished third before this game, but they didn’t force the issue, showing that even they knew it was only a faint glimmer of hope anyway. They’ll be in the 2. Bundesliga next season, but their opponents have only two more games before they can start planning for a season in the top flight.
Bielefeld: Ortega; Brunner (Weihrauch 23‘), Pieper, Salger, Hartherz; Prietl, Seufert (Kunze 84‘), Hartel; Soukou (Clauss 84‘), Schipplock (Klos 69‘), Yabo (Voglsammer 69‘).
Darmstadt: Schuhen; Pfeiffer, Dumić, Rapp (Arslan 86‘); Bader (Skarke 81‘), Schnellhardt (Manu 66‘), Stark (Paik HT), Pálsson, Holland; Heller (Platt 66‘), Dursun.
Goal: Prietl (52‘).
Referee: Benedikt Kempkes.
Elsewhere on Thursday: A 2-0 win for Holstein Kiel puts Dynamo Dresden on the brink of relegation.