September 23, 2017

Friday night cup fight? It’s FINK-tastic!

Poor Stefan Kießling and poor MSV Duisburg.

Under normal circumstances, scoring five goals, as Kießling did in Bayer Leverkusen’s 0:6 romp over Alemannia Waldalgesheim, or pulling off the first-round upset of traditional club 1. FC Nürnberg, as the zebras did with their 1:0 win, would easily be the story of a relatively light evening of competition, with Friday featuring just three of the 32 DFB Pokal matches being contested over the extended weekend.

But Anton Fink and Chemnitzer FC stole the spotlight with their dispatching of 1. FSV Mainz in a 10:9 (on penalties, of course) thriller.

Goals! Goals! Goals! At the Stadion on the Gellerstraße!

Chemnitzer FC captain Anton Fink, entered Friday’s tournament-opener having already added three goals to his 3. Liga record of 69, and did not let Bundesliga-level opposition slow him. With his side down 0:2 early in the second half, Fink connected twice in less than three minutes to bring Chemnitz back to even terms with their visitor but also, more importantly, quickly change the complexion of the match.

Mainz, having suffered a surprise ejection from Europa League by blowing a 1:0 first-leg advantage just eight days prior, was in need of a confidence-building performance before the Bundesliga starts next weekend. Instead, the transition from the successes of the Thomas Tuchel era has been tumultuous, at best, putting extra early pressure on new coach Kaspar Hjulmand before he’s even seen a league match.

Despite Chemnitz showing they were up for the match early, Niki Zimling put Mainz on the board first in the 25th minute. when Shinji Okazaki doubled the FSV lead in the 49th minute, it appeared Hjulman’s crew would get the needed result.

And then . . . Fink!

Yet, Mainz recovered from the shock of Fink’s double-punch, eventually regaining the lead on a gorgeous shot by Ja-Cheol Koo in the 72nd minute that would rival the first of Fink’s two goals for “goal of the match.”

“Would” . . . under normal circumstances, that is.

Niki Zimling was the unfortunate player in the late-regulation drama, collecting an 87th minute own-goal when he couldn’t get his feet out of the way of a Christian Mauersberger cross which deflected off Zimling’s foot past Loris Karius to ultimately send the match to extra time.

The home side would grab the lead twice in extra time.

Yes! TWICE!

Markus Ziereis’ 103rd-minute headed goal was negated six minutes later by a Niko Bungert header. Then Marco Kehl-Gomez, in the 119th of 120 minutes scores what HAS to be the match-winner.

“HAS to be” . . . under normal circumstances, and had I not already told you this one went to penalties.

Moments later . . . well, it just has to be seen.

Yep. “Geis . . . GEIS!”

Keeper Philipp Pentke could have put that ball just about anywhere else on the pitch, including into touch, and had the game end without it going to penalties, in all likelihood. Yet . . .

GEIS!

In a lovely sequence of redemption, however, Pentke was able to relegate Geis wonder-strike to a harmless, if viral-worthy, goal when he managed to put himself between the net and Gonzalo Jara’s penalty, the only failed attempt of ten, which meant that when Fink connected again three attempts later, it was the match-winner.

“Friday night and I need a fight . . . “

You gotta have heart.

Coming off a 5:1 debacle in the Frankenderby Monday night against SpVgg Greuther Fürth, you wouldn’t blame prohibitive promotion favorite 1. FC Nürnberg for looking at 3. Liga MSV Duisburg as a potential victim for the venting of frustration, perhaps through some dominant football.

Yet, it was the home side walking away feeling good, taking a 1:0 victory into the second round and sending der Club to seek solace elsewhere.

A soft pass from Niklas Stark to keeper Raphael Schäfer led to a turnover and MSV possession with Zlatko Janjic streaking into the area with the ball. Stark’s challenge arrived in time to catch only Janjic’s shin. Janjic converted his own penalty, giving him a cup goal to go with his three so far in league play.

“I’m such a good boy . . .”

Stefan Kießling is clearly not a bit tired from having played at the World Cup.

Nor does Kieß seem overly burdened by feeling he needs to impress national trainer Joachim Löw.

And, really, a side like Alemannia Waldalgesheim is simply never going to have an answer for shutting down a guy who has proven he can score enough goals to lead the Bundesliga.

Kießling and Leverkusen cruise

Hence, Bayer Leverkusen’s offensive force put five goals on their sixth-division opponents in about an hour of game time, leaving it to Heung-Min Son to put the finishing touch on Bayer’s 0:6 warm-up romp on their eight-day, three-match road trip.

Leverkusen travels to Denmark Tuesday for the first leg of their Champions League qualification battle with FC Copenhagen, before returning to Germany for Saturday’s league opener at Borussia Dortmund.

 

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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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