The DFB-Pokal is finally back, with three Friday night games to kick things off in the first round. The first handful of the 32 first-round ties did not serve up any shocks, as Dortmund, Gladbach and Nürnberg all prevailed past their lower-league opponents. Nürnberg left it late in the Bavarian derby with Ingolstadt, Borussia Dortmund struggled their way into a comfortable position against KFC Uerdingen, while their namesakes from Mönchengladbach scraped through past SV Sandhausen.
In Düsseldorf’s Merkur Spiel-Arena, where KFC Uerdingen are currently playing all their home games, Dortmund were greeted by a defensively solid side, who were not without their attacking threat. While Kevin Großkreutz and his teammates kept the Bundesliga runners up at bay, not least thanks to a goal-line clearance from the former BVB man himself, they took their chances to break forward well and even came close to taking the lead.
KFC Uerdingen survived the half, but it did not take long after the restart for Dortmund to take control. Marco Reus grabbed the opener after four minutes, relieving any nerves in the Black and Yellow camp. On the 70 minute mark, Paco Alcacer stepped up with a moment of magic to seal the deal. The Spaniard placed his free-kick into the only part of the goal out of reach for the goalkeeper.
Top of the 3. Liga with three wins in four, FC Ingolstadt welcomed their Bavarian neighbours to the Audi-Sportpark full of confidence and found themselves celebrating the opener just two minutes into the game. The goal was disallowed, however, due to an offside player interfering with the goalkeeper.
22 minutes on the clock, déjà vu: Nürnberg had the ball in the back of the net only for their goal to be ruled out for a remarkably similar offside scenario.
It was not until the 88th minute that one of the teams could celebrate for real. Nürnberg new boy Nikola Dovedan converted a cross from Sebastian Kerk, which was enough for the local bragging rights and a place in the next round.
There are few worse ways to start a DFB-Pokal campaign than with a thunderstorm and a 45 minute kick-off delay. Once on the pitch, however, Gladbach wasted little time in taking the initiative: Tobias Strobl’s long ball forward from deep was met perfectly by debutant Marcus Thuram, whose diving header flew past Fraisl in the Sandhausen goal.
The remaining 70 minutes of football were anything but comfortable for the Bundesliga outfit, who had wave after wave of Sandhausen attack to contend with, almost shooting themselves in the foot on occasion. Unable to build on their lead, but ultimately managing to keep the underdogs out, Marco Rose’s men made it through to the second round.