SC Freiburg are the 2021/22 DFB-Pokal’s first confirmed finalists. The Bundesliga side beat second-tier Hamburger SV 3-1 on Tuesday night to reach the cup final for the first time in their history and will now play either RB Leipzig or 1. FC Union Berlin in the capital’s Olympiastadion on 21st May.
The away side started with a lot of intensity at the Volksparkstadion, winning the ball back high up the pitch and creating the first chances of the game through headers from Philipp Lienhart (2’) and Vincenzo Grifo (4’). HSV then had their first opportunity, also via header from Robert Glatzel (5’) and soon grew into the game.
Despite Hamburg now looking the more likely to strike first, the opening goal came at the other end. The hosts failed to clear a corner properly and the recycled ball was headed in from six yards by Nils Petersen (11’). Freiburg used the uncertainty in the HSV defence to double their advantage just six minutes later too, with a misplaced pass out the back by Daniel Heuer Fernandes eventually leading to Nicolas Höfler’s deflected shot finding the back of the net (17’).
The home side set about dusting themselves down and finding a way back into the game, and Anssi Suhonen almost provided it, only to waste a promising opportunity (26’). The next setback for HSV came in the 35th minute when Nico Schlotterbeck was caught in the box, allowing Grifo to convert the resulting penalty and hand Freiburg a resounding 3-0 lead. The bad luck remained with Tim Walter’s side too, with a goal back from Suhonen chalked off by VAR for offside (38’).
HSV continued to push for a way back into the game after the restart and Bakery Jatta’s header following a Sonny Kittel free-kick had to be dealt with by SCF goalkeeper Mark Flekken (50’). Freiburg still carried a threat on the counter too, however, and Roland Sallai’s driven shot into the side netting wasn’t far from putting the result beyond doubt (54’).
As the game progressed, Hamburg tried to up the pressure, but the visitors managed to keep their cool with their play out the back, and some high pressing of their own meant that HSV struggled to create many dangerous goalscoring opportunities. When a half-chance did appear, like with Kittel’s first-time shot in the 68th minute, Flekken was in the right place.
A final push in the closing stages saw Suhonen forge a couple more chances, but his first was blocked away at the last second (77’) and a long-range effort failed to find the target (78’). There was something for the fantastic home support to cheer in the 88th minute, however, with an unmarked Glatzel heading in a cross for his fifth cup goal of the season. Ermin Demirovic almost restored SCF’s three-goal lead immediately with a rifling shot that hit the woodwork (90’), but it was trivial at that stage anyway, as Freiburg saw out a 3-1 win to secure their ticket to the final.###more###