League leaders Bayer Leverkusen became the first Bundesliga side to book their place in this season’s DFB-Pokal semi-finals on Tuesday night, defeating fellow top-flight high flyers VfB Stuttgart 3-2, thus preserving their unbeaten record in all competitions this season.
Stuttgart began full of confidence and took the lead with their first chance of the evening. Angelo Stiller’s corner found Waldemar Anton at the back post and his header looped over goalkeeper Matej Kovar for 1-0 (11’).
Although Leverkusen had lots of the ball, they initially struggled to find a way through Stuttgart’s defence. Bayer’s first attempt was in the 30th minute, but Alejandro Grimaldo’s strike went over the bar. He went close 12 minutes later from a free-kick, forcing Alexander Nübel into a save. VfB’s shot-stopper then kept out Patrik Schick’s back-heel from close range (44’). At the other end, Hiroki Ito could only hit the side-netting in first-half injury time.
After Schick missed a great chance to equalise (47’), Robert Andrich sensationally picked out the top corner with a curling effort from the edge of the box (49’).
The visitors soon regained the lead though, courtesy of a mistake at the back from the hosts. Enzo Millot played it to Chris Führich in the box and the attacker picked out the top corner with another sublime finish (58’).
An excellent through ball from Florian Wirtz found substitute Amine Adli. He raced through and slotted the ball underneath for Nübel for Bayer’s second equaliser of the evening (66’).
As the 30,210 fans at a sold-out BayArena looked to be getting ready for extra time, Xabi Alonso’s team stole it at the death. Wirtz’s cross towards the back post picked out Jonathan Tah and he left Nübel no chance with his powerful header in the 90th minute.