Bayer 04 Leverkusen have returned to the DFB-Pokal final for the first time in eleven years, comfortably seeing off this season’s surprise package 1. FC Saarbrücken 3-0 in the semi-finals. Peter Bosz’s side can now look forward to facing either Bayern München or Eintracht Frankfurt in Berlin on 4th July.
The favourites raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Moussa Diaby and Lucas Alario, reducing the already slim chances of another cup upset from Saarbrücken, who beat second-tier sides Jahn Regensburg and Karlsruher SC and Bundesliga clubs 1. FC Köln and Fortuna Düsseldorf on their way to becoming the first ever fourth-tier outfit to reach the DFB-Pokal semi-finals. Karim Bellarabi wrapped up victory for the Champions-League chasing Werkself in the second half.
FCS head coach Lukas Kwasniok said it was the “game of a lifetime” for his players even despite the conditions enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, with three months having passed since their last game in the now cancelled Regionalliga Südwest. Their promotion to the 3. Liga has been confirmed, but their incredible home support, which made it so difficult for previous visitors to Völklingen, were unable to back them up this time.
Leverkusen, on the other hand, have been back to business in the Bundesliga for the last four weeks. They were without in-form Germany international Kai Havertz because of knee problems, but their dominance was still total from the offset. It took just eleven minutes for Bosz’s men to find the breakthrough, with Kerem Demirbay’s precision ball over the backline volleyed through Daniel Batz’s legs by Moussa Diaby. A second goal followed less than ten minutes later after Lucas Alario capitalised on a mix-up in the Saarbrücken defence.
The visitors took their foot off their gas a little for the remainder of the half, but that didn’t stop them camping in the FCS half and enjoying 84 percent of possession. Paulinho had a couple of chances to extend the lead five minutes before the break, but the minnows held out to still be in with a slight chance after the restart.
The underdogs looked a little braver early in the second 45, getting more numbers forward when they did venture into the Leverkusen half. Just as confidence was rising though, another miscommunication at the back spelled the end of their comeback hopes. With the initial danger seemingly dealt with, Demirbay was allowed to steal between two hesitant FCS defenders and pick out the fresh legs of Karim Bellarabi, who duly made it 3-0. Both sides knew that the result was confirmed after that and although Saarbrücken tried to muster a consolation goal, B04 keeper Lukas Hradecky ultimately remained relatively untroubled.
The win sees Bayer Leverkusen reach the DFB-Pokal final for the fourth time after 1993, 2002 and 2009. Their only cup triumph to date came 27 years ago when they beat Hertha BSC’s reserves, with Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen getting the better of them in their last two Berlin showpieces respectively.###more###