Giant-killers 1. FC Saarbrücken caused yet another upset to reach the quarterfinals of this year’s DFB-Pokal. The third-division side, who defeated reigning Bundesliga champions FC Bayern with a last-gasp winner in the round of 32, beat five-time Pokal winners Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 to progress to the next stage. Bayer Leverkusen were favourites going into their game against Bundesliga 2 club SC Paderborn and ran out as 3-1 winners, booking their ticket to the quarterfinals alongside Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart. The goalfest between second-division teams HSV and Hertha BSC ended on level terms in Berlin and would be decided by a shoot-out, in which the side from the capital kept their composure and crushed the Rothosen’s dreams of Pokal glory.
Saarbrücken have not caused much of a stir in the 3.Liga this season and currently occupy 11th place, but they are a completely different beast in the DFB-Pokal. After a promising start, Kai Brünker looked to have put the home side ahead, but the goal was ruled out after a VAR check (20’). The 0-0 scoreline at half-time flattered Frankfurt, who started to dominate the game after the break and hit the crossbar through Aurelio Buta in the 61st minute. Saarbrücken responded perfectly three minutes later, as Brückner headed home from close range to break the deadlock (64’). The goal took the wind out of Frankfurt’s sails and the Saarland club doubled their advantage in the 79th minute through Kerber to seal the victory (79’).
Bayer Leverkusen cruised into the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal after a clinical 3-1 win over SC Paderborn. The match got off to an uneventful start before Victor Boniface fired the Werkself into the lead in the 12th minute. Just before the half an hour mark and the hosts had their second through midfielder Exequiel Palacios (29’). Amine Adli looked to have scored Leverkusen’s third but Boniface was found to be offside in the build-up (40’). Leverkusen would see another goal disallowed early on in the second half (53’) but continued to control the flow of the game. Paderborn got one back through Sebastian Klaas, but Patrik Schik restored Leverkusen’s two-goal lead shortly before the final whistle to crush the second-division side’s hopes (87’).
VfB Stuttgart prevailed in Wednesday night’s comfortable 2-0 Pokal win against BVB. The hosts initially had things under control before Dortmund took their first chance of the game, which saw Marcel Sabitzer’s hit from the edge of the penalty area get denied by the crossbar (20’). After a dominant start to the second-half, Enzo Millot opened the scoring for the Swabian side with a composed nutmeg through the legs of the BVB keeper (54’). The visitors responded and Bynoe-Gittens fired home in the 60th minute, but to Stuttgart’s relief, the goal was called offside. Dortmund battled hard and searched persistently for an equaliser, yet Silas had other ideas, putting the game to bed with a calm finish into the bottom right corner (77’).
Both sides had a number of chances in the opening stages of Hertha BSC’s clash against Hamburger SV. The hosts would strike first through Fabian Reese, who slotted home at the second time of asking after his initial shot hit the post (21’). The Hertha lead didn’t last long, however, as Immanuel Pherai levelled things up again ten minutes later (31’). Laszlo Benes then poked home from close range to put HSV in front shortly before the interval (43’). After an end-to-end second half, Reese found some space down the left in the final seconds of normal time and smashed the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box to send the game to extra time (90’). Ransdorf Königsdörffer scored the Rothosen’s third goal in the 102nd minute, before the home side scored yet another last-gasp equaliser. Reese danced into the box and whipped a beautiful ball towards the back post, which was bundled home by Jonjoe Kenny to make it 3-3 (120’). Hertha’s players held their nerve, scoring all four of their penalties before Tjark Ernst denied Königsdörffer. Reese stepped up and converted the fifth penalty to send the Old Lady into the quarters.