BERLIN: Leipzig came from behind despite a numerical disadvantage, shocking passive Freiburg 4-2 (1-1) on penalties to clinch their first-ever title in the club history following the 79th German Cup final at Berlin Olympia stadium.
Both teams started highly motivated in the encounter on Saturday night, yet the spectators had to wait until the 14th minute to see the first clear-cut chance as Emil Forsberg tested Freiburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken from a tight angle The opener was scored at the other end of the pitch five minutes later when Maximilian Eggestein hammered a loose ball from the edge of the box past Leipzig custodian Peter Gulacsi, Xinhua reports.
Leipzig should have levelled the scores in the 24th minute but Christopher Nkunku couldn’t take advantage of Nicolas Hofler’s misplaced pass.
After the restart, the ‘Red Bulls’ started where they left off as Nkunku’s turn shot forced Flekken into action once again in the 50th minute.
Leipzig’s game suffered a heavy setback in the 57th minute when Marcel Halstenberg committed a professional foul to receive his marching orders. Freiburg gained momentum and pushed forward but Vincenzo Grifo, as well as Roland Sallai, rattled only the side netting in quick succession at the hour mark.
However, as the match progressed, Freiburg reduced their offensive actions and got flabbergasted by resilient Leipzig, who restored parity through Nkunku out of thin air.
Ten-man Leipzig sparked to life and pressed uninspired Freiburg on the back foot. The ‘Breisgauers’ defended deep in their territory and had a lot of work to reach the overtime.
In the overtime, Freiburg assumed control again and squared two promising opportunities by substituting Yannick Haberer against smart defending Leipzig.
However, after 120 minutes and a 1-1 stalemate the penalty shoot-out had to bring the decision. Ten-man Leipzig kept their nerves from the spot and snatched the title as Freiburg’s Christian Gunter and Ermedin Demirovic couldn’t convert their penalties.
“This is nuts. We played over 60 minutes with 10 men and staged a terrible performance in the first half. It is unbelievable. This is the first title in our club history,” said Leipzig’s sporting director Oliver Mintzlaff.