The DFB-Pokal’s four-day weekend bows out in style: Monday night’s four fixtures served up all the excitement and drama the fans had come to expect from the previous days. While Paderborn provided the token shock of the evening beating 2. Bundesliga visitors Ingolstadt to begin another cup run, we witnessed this season’s first penalty shootout after a breathtaking encounter between Freiburg and Cottbus. Elsewhere, Hertha Berlin and Borussia Dortmund made hard work of beating their lower-league opponents, but got the job done in the end and booked their place in the second round.
Germany international Marvin Plattenhardt gave Hertha the lead with a wondergoal from 25 yards on 38 minutes in an otherwise quiet first half. Braunschweig were able to fight back in the second half, testing out Rune Jarstein and also hitting Hertha's post. They eventually drew level through Mergim Fejzullahu nine minutes before time, but Hertha weren't prepared to give up that easily. Just two minutes later Dennis Jastrzembski set up captain Vedad Ibisevic on his professional debut for the winner. Hertha's dream of playing the final in their own stadium lives on, just.
In a repeat of last year's last 16 tie, Paderborn were able to defeat FC Ingolstadt once again in the DFB-Pokal. After Christopher Antwi-Adjej had a golden chance for SCP early on, Uwe Hünemeier gave them the lead with help from a deflection. Paderborn dominated the next phase of the game, with Ben Zolinski missing the best chance for the second goal. Hünemeier was the man for the job though, scoring a towering header from a corner to double Paderborn's lead. Ingolstadt came back into the game after half time, with Sonny Kittel's free kick giving them hope 15 minutes before the end. However Paderborn were able to see out the win over their league rivals.
Energie Cottbus narrowly missed out on causing a big upset against Bundesliga side SC Freiburg, losing 5-3 on penalties after a pulsating 2-2 draw. Cottbus had earlier come so close to winning the game in normal time, having gained the lead through Marcelo de Freitas after 47 minutes. Freiburg only managed to equalise in injury time through Maik Frantz's stunning effort. The guests then gained the advantage in extra time, with former Cottbus man Nils Petersen converting the rebound from his missed penalty. Energie kept on fighting though, and Fabio Viteritti sent the game to penalties with his equaliser. The Bundesliga side then showed their quality, converting all 5 penalties. Tim Kruse missed his for Cottbus, allowing Dominique Heintz to finally end this DFB-Pokal classic and deny Cottbus their dream upset.
Another DFB-Pokal shock was almost to be expected given the events of the weekend so far, but when Sebastian Ernst scored in the 77th minute to put Greuther Fürth 1-0 up against Dortmund, the noise in the stadium proved it was anything but. A lacklustre performance from the Champions League outfit made for an evenly-contested encounter, with the slight majority of the chances falling unsurprisingly to the visitors from Dortmund.
Greuther Fürth were ready to play as the underdogs, however, and knew that if they kept the door shut, Dortmund’s would eventually open. And when it did, they took their chance. Remarkably, very little changed after the goal, but right at the death, with 30 seconds left on the clock, Golliath struck in the form of new signing Axel Witsel to stun the home crowd and take the game to extra time.
Apparently, even that was not to be the end of the weekend’s drama, when Marco Reus smashed home the winner in the last minute of extra time to break the hearts of Greuther Fürth, who bow out of the DFB-Pokal with their heads held high