For the tenth year in a row, Bayern Munich are through to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal. Down to just 10 players, the finalists from last year fought their way to a 5-4 (1-2) victory against FC Heidenheim. A late penalty from Robert Lewandowski sealed the deal for the home team in a thrilling match with plenty of back and forth action.
Bayern, who have won the DFB-Pokal 18 times, found it hard to create chances against Heidenheim’s solid defence. German international Serge Gnabry finally broke through in the eighth minute after a quick give-and-go, but was stopped by Marlon Busch. A header from Mats Hummels off the resulting corner sailed just over the crossbar. Four minutes later, Leon Goretzka put his team ahead, heading the ball through the legs of Heidenheim keeper Kevin Müller (12’).
Unpredictable things happen during the DFB-Pokal, and tonight’s game was no exception. A missed pass from Bayern allowed Robert Andrich to storm towards the Bayern goal before Niklas Süle took him down just outside the 18-yard box. Referee Guido Winkmann first gave Süle a yellow card, before changing it to a straight red after VAR review. Marc Schnatterer hit the crossbar on the resulting free kick (17’) and shortly after, the guests came close to drawing level after a long distance shot from Nikola Dovedan was parried by Bayern keeper Sven Ulreich.
Down a man, Bayern were scrambling defensively before bringing on Jérôme Boateng as a second centre-back in the 23rd minute. But, even Boateng was unable to stop Heidenheim from drawing level in the 26th minute after Schnatterer placed a cross perfectly in the path of an unmarked Robert Glatzel.
Heidenheim continued to pick away at the Bayern defence, while the home team began to make some advances down the field again, with no success. Heidenheim broke through again in the 38th minute after a wide open Schnatterer put the ball past Ulreich to secure the lead for the visitors.
The start of the second half saw Bayern bring on Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman in place of James and Rafinha. It didn’t take long for Lewandowski to change the tone of the game: after a blocked cross came his way, he was able to set up Thomas Müller, who brought his side level with a spectacular volley (53’). Two minutes later, it was Müller who set up Lewandowski with a tap-in goal.
After two quick goals, Bayern regained control of the match, with Gnabry making it 4-2 after his goal was initially called offside before being allowed following review (65’). Bayern kept up the pressure, with Gnabry and Coman just missing a chance to make it 5-2 (67’).
Then, out of nowhere, another chance for Heidenheim: Glatzel slid a low shot past Ulreich into the far corner to bring the visitors level again (74’). A few minutes later, after a foul from Hummels in the box, Glatzel completed his hat-trick by slotting the penalty past Ulreich. Now down a goal, Bayern pushed forward again, with a shot from Gnabry hitting the crossbar after a collision between Lewandowski and Heidenheim keeper Müller left the goal wide open. Heidenheim countered with a shot from Denis Thomalla that was blocked by Ulreich, before Andrich’s rebound was blocked by Hummels (81’).
Then, the deciding moment: after a handball from Busch in the 18-yard box, Lewandowski sealed the deal for Bayern by converting from the spot. Gnabry had a chance to add to the goal tally late in the game, but was denied by the crossbar again (88’).