For those of us who find the Bundesliga brilliant in so many ways, especially its level of competitiveness and excitement, the Bundesliga winter break led well into Tuesday’s DFB Pokal. Four close matches were played, with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, 1899 Hoffenheim and SpVgg Greuther Furth advancing. Hoffenheim bounced back after a disappointing run of form and Bayern needed a last minute goal to see off Bochum. Dortmund meanwhile were taken to penalties after a hard fought 120 minutes of football and fan violence marred the Nürnberg-Fürth derby.
Nürnberg 0 – 1 Greuther Fürth
2. Bundesliga side Greuther Fürth pulled the upset of the day when they narrowly beat regional rivals Nürnberg thanks to a goal from Edgar Prib in the 15th minute, booking themselves a place in the quarterfinals for just the third time. It was the 254th meeting between the two sides as Germany’s oldest derby was rekindled in front of over 48,000 fans. Sadly the occasion was mired when some 200 Nürnberg supporters clashed with the police after the match. Both managers put out their strongest sides, Nürnberg hoping to follow up on their impressive 3-0 win at Leverkusen over the weekend and Fürth to add to an already impressive season.
The match itself was a rollercoaster. Nürnberg started the better of the two teams but both sides seemed nervous, leading to several little mistakes. Fürth took advantage by Nürnberg’s poor marking and took the lead in the 15th minute from a corner, Nöthe finding Prib two meters out from goal. The jitters continued and Fürth had two more chances before the break. First, their left-winger, Schröck, fired wide and before the break, Nöthe forced a fingertip save from Nürnberg captain Schäfer. Nürnberg stepped up their game in the second half and Wollscheid and Maroh both had good chances but missed just narrowly. The momentum was starting to shift and Nürnberg’s job was made easier when Fürth’s Nehrig was sent off with half an hour to go. Hecking brought on Plattenhardt who created two more chances for Nürnberg shortly after. The first was another narrow miss and the second was tapped in by Didavi but referee Kircher waved it off for a supposed foul from Bunjaku on Occean. The controversially disallowed goal took the steam out of Nürnberg and Fürth closed out the game.
Like many times in the league this season, Nürnberg took too long to get going and before they knew it, they were behind. It was an uphill battle after that and it took some 45 minutes for Hecking’s side to get into the game. Esswein and Plattenhardt brought some much needed aggression and drive but not enough to take advantage of a faltering Fürth. Nürnberg were perhaps hard done by with the disallowed goal but lacked the necessary invention to get past a Fürth side content to defend after their sending off.
VfL Bochum 1-2 Bayern Munich
The treble dreams of the titans from Bavaria are still alive, though barely, as Bayern Munich needed a very late goal by Arjen Robben to defeat a dogged Bochum side 2-1. After barely losing out in their promotion bid last season in their playoff with Borussia Monchengladbach, Bochum started the current campaign slowly but have picked up steam, earning 17 points in their last nine 2. Bundesliga matches. Welcoming the herbstmeister champion Bayern Munich to rewirpower Stadion Tuesday didn’t phase Andreas Bergmann’s club a bit, and they battled brilliantly against their more famous opponents. Bayern Munich started the match well, but were unable to create enough momentum and paid when Bochum’s Giovanni Federico scored from a cross by Mirkan Aydin in the 26th minute. Bochum’s goal seemed to revitalize the Bavarian’s efforts, but chances by Arjen Robben and Toni Kroos went unrewarded, and Bochum took a 1-0 lead into halftime.
The sleeping giants came out strong after halftime, and after a Jermone Boateng header failed to equalize, Kroos’ found the leveller in the 52nd minute from the beneficial interplay of Mario Gomez and himself. But Bergmann’s Bochum side held Bayern Munich from equalizing, absorbing the pressure and looking to head to extra time, when Bayern icon Philipp Lahm stole a pass and sent the ball to Franck Ribery on the left flank. Ribery charged forward and got off a pass crossfield to Robben, who sidefooted in stoppage time to gain the Bavarians a late, narrow win over their determined Bochum opponents. The Robben/Ribery duo aren’t on the pitch together often enough for Bayern supporters, but when they are, generally magic ensues. Tuesday they kept Bayern’s treble dreams alive.
Fortuna Düsseldorf 0 – 0 (4 – 5 AET) Borussia Dortmund
After a laborious 120 minutes, Dortmund edged out 2. Bundesliga leaders Düsseldorf on penalties but the win did not come easy. Going into the match, Dortmund were missing several key players and their task was made even more difficult when Owomoyela was sent off just 35 minutes into the match. Düsseldorf’s defend and counter attack strategy nearly worked but Dortmund seemed better prepared for a penalty shoot out. Dortmund had never beaten Düsseldorf in the Cup before so this was their first win against them in four tries in the competition.
Missing both second and third choice center backs, Klopp had to start fullback Owomoyela in the center next to Hummels. They were also missing Bender, Götze, Schmelzer and Kagawa. Düsseldorf meanwhile are in the for of their lives, losing their first match in 25 this past weekend so the atmosphere was ripe for an upset. Things turned out a bit different though and Dortmund dominated the early going with Lewandowski and Blaszczykowski coming close. Düsseldorf’s biggest threat came from their right and Beister who was giving Löwe a hard time. Owomoyela also struggled to deal with Rösler who was constantly coming in and out of the box, ultimately leading to a late tackle and a sending off for the Dortmund defender. The hosts finally came into the game after the dismissal and Düsseldorf really put Dortmund under the knife for the following 30 minutes. Beister and Rösler continued to threaten Dortmund but were denied by a strong Weidenfeller and Hummels who were single handedly keeping their side in the game until extra time.
Dortmund then managed to hold on for another 30 minutes in extra time, scrapping for balls and defending for their lives while trying to catch Düsseldorf on the counter whenever they could, to little effect though. Luckily, it seemed as if Klopp prepared his side for penalties and Dortmund’s spotkicks were all taken with deadly accuracy while Düsseldorf struggled and had one saved by Weidenfeller. Klopp had to readjust after the sending off and relied on a three man backline for almost 90 minutes and without many of his key players, making this more of an impressive result than it might appear.
Hoffenheim 2-1 FC Augsburg
The village club were the only home side to advance in Tuesday’s Pokal matchups. An up and down club thus far in 2011-2012, Holger Stanislawski’s club did just enough to pull off a 2-1 win and go through to the quarterfinals. The heroes in Sinsheim were Hoffenheim’s two 27 year-old Bosnian veterans, Sejad Salihovic and Vedad Ibisevic. Salihovic opened the game’s scoring in the 23rd minute, as his beautifully swerving free kick eluded Augsburg keeper Mohamed Amsif. But this Augsburg squad, which was promoted to the Bundesliga after last season, is full of fight and spirit. Jos Luhaky’s team, which has gotten results in nine of its seventeen Hinrunde matches, equalized thirteen minutes later, when 6’4″ striker Torsten Oehrl tapped in a rebound.
Salihovic, though, again came to the rescue of Stanislawski’s side. His free kick shortly after intermission found his countryman Ibisevic, who volleyed past Amsif for the game-winner. The talented forward has scored five league goals in only 575 minutes following his return from injury this fall, and Tuesday’s goal made it his sixth in 663 minutes of play. His winner places Hoffenheim in the quarterfinals of the Cup for the fourth time since the 2003-2004 season, although they’ve yet to advance into the semifinals, losing last year to Energie Cottbus 1-0. The win today will make for a more upbeat winter break for the club after surrendering two points when Roman Hubnik equalized in stoppage time for Hertha Berlin Saturday.
Match images courtesy of spox.com