Both away sides won in Tuesday’s DFB Pokal matchups as SC Freiburg dramatically rallied from a two goal deficit via the heroics of Daniel Caligiuri to defeat hosts Mainz 3-2 in extra time, while later in the day Wolfsburg downed a spirited Kickers Offenbach club from the 3. Liga 2-1. Freiburg and Wolfsburg will now be two of the four clubs involved in the Pokal semifinals on April 16-17, along with the winners of Wednesday’s VfB Stuttgart- VfL Bochum and Bayern Munich-Borussia Dortmund matches. Neither Freiburg nor Wolfsburg have ever won the Cup, although the Wolves were runners-up during the 1994/1995 season.
1. FSV Mainz 05 2-3 SC Freiburg
Mainz and Freiburg are two very similar clubs, both “small” clubs, both promoted to Germany’s top-tier following the 2008/2009 season and both searching for a European berth in the standings this season, while currently separated by only two points. They even drew in both league meetings this season. The equal quality of the clubs was apparent, as Mainz boldly grabbed an early two goal lead, while Freiburg were able to score twice late to force extra time.
Mainz’ start to the 4th Round match was everything a supporter at the Coface Arena today could have dreamed of. German-American striker Shawn Parker tallied in the second minute, punching in a cross from the left flank by seldom-used Chinedu Ede. Two minutes later, Mainz had doubled their lead when a Niki Zimling shot took a slight deflection and made it past Freiburg keeper Oliver Baumann. Four minutes, two goals, and the Coface rocked with delight.
Freiburg Coach Christian Streich made an early change, taking out defender Vegar Hedenstad and inserting a goal-scoring threat, midfielder Jonathan Schmid, in the twelth minute. Although both teams had opportunities, the half ended with Coach Thomas Tuchel’s Mainz club still leading 2-0.
Freiburg kept their heads up, but the game looked locked in Mainz favor in the second half, despite Freiburg gaining the man advantage following the dismissal of Mainz defender Zdenek Popsech in the 65th minute, and the substitution of the threatening Parker, who had four shots on goal, for veteran Costa Rican defender Junior Diaz five minutes later. But Tuchel’s tactical moves were checked by the ever-efforting Freiburg club, who earned a 86th minute lifeline as substitute Ivan Santini knocked in the rebound from a Matthias Gintner shot.
Jaws dropped in the Coface minutes later as the ever-hustling Daniel Caligiuri scored the equalizer in the third minute of stoppage time from the penalty spot. Neither club could score in the first fifteen minutes of extra time, but Caligiuri knocked in Max Kruse’s cross to the shock of Mainz fans, earning the Black Forest team a historic victory. Caligiuri, who took nine shots in the match, drew six fouls and was always a threat down the left flank, had a Man of the Match performance as he willed his club to their comeback win over the Mainz squad that includes his older brother, Marco. The visitors outshot Mainz, 30-12, during the 120 minutes of play.
Mainz: H. Müller – Pospech, Svensson, Noveski, Zabavnik – N. Müller, Baumgartlinger, Zimling (M. Caligiuri 62′), Ede (Ivanschitz 72′) – S. Parker, Szalai Freiburg: Baumann – Hedenstad (Schmid 12′), Ginter, Krmas, Sorg – M. Kruse, Schuster, Makiadi, D. Caligiuri – Rosenthal (Santini 84′), Flum (Guede 62′)
Kickers Offenbach 1-2 VfL Wolfsburg
Third division Kickers Offenbach showed great spirit, along with an overall good performancey, in their Pokal match against Wolfsburg, but in the end the difference in quality between the two squads saw Wolfsburg eke out a narrow win over the upset-minded Kickers.
Offenbach displayed its intentions right off the bat, as former Eintracht Braunschweig striker Mathias Fetsch shot high on a legitimate chance on goal with only 12 seconds gone on the clock. Kickers played with energy, but were no more able to crack Wolfsburg’s net than their visitors were able to make a dent on the scoreboard during the first 45 minutes.
Minutes into the second half, Wolfsburg scored, albeit with a little luck. A cross from Makoto Hasebe eluded Kickers’ veteran goalkeeper, Robert Wulnikowski, and bounced off Ivica Olić‘ torso and into the net to give the Wolves a barely deserved lead. The Volkswagen City club, struggling in league play, looked to have the match in hand when Bas Dost scored from a well-taken Marcel Schafer cross to give Dieter Hecking’s club a 2-0 lead, with only 19 minutes to play in regulation time.
Recently appointed Offenbach Coach Rico Schmidt’s Hessen club did not give up on their dream, and drew a goal back in the 81st minute, with defender Marcel Stadl scoring when his shot caromed off the post and went in. Hecking’s team were able to play out the final minutes without surrendering another goal, though, to find a dullish season suddenly brightened with a berth in the Pokal semifinals.
Offenbach: Wulnikowski – Ahlschwede, Kleineheismann, Stadel, Stein – Feldhahn, Mehic (Bäker 64′) – Schwarz (Avdic 79′), Reinhardt – Fetsch, Rathgeber (Vogler 64′) Wolfsburg: Benaglio – Hasebe, Naldo, Madlung, Schäfer – Polak, Josue (Kjaer 87′) – Olic (Rodriguez 75′), Diego, Vieirinha (Träsch 90′) – Dost