RB Leipzig won the 2021/22 DFB Cup after recovering from a goal and man down to beat Freiburg on penalties in an absorbing all-Bundesliga final in the German capital.
Freiburg 1-1 RB Leipzig (Leipzig win 4-2 on pens.)
Goals: 1-0 Eggestein 19' (assist: Sallai), 1-1 Nkunku 76' (assist: Orban)
Red card: Halstenberg 57'
Fresh from producing incredible respective campaigns, both of these sides were aiming to sign off 2021/22 with a first piece of major silverware. The Bundesliga's fourth-place finishers, Leipzig, were featuring in their third Pokal showpiece in the past four years and it was Tedesco's team who kick-started the contest as a spectacle after a cautious start. Emil Forsberg's angled shot drew a parried save from Mark Flekken and while Nkunku's follow-up was blocked, the game was now alive. Freiburg revelled in the more open proceedings and took full advantage when Maximilian Eggestein found the corner of the net from distance with supreme precision after the ball was bundled into the midfielder's path by Roland Sallai. The swathes of Freiburg fans in red celebrated wildly, but they were wincing in unison when Nicolas Höfler's defensive header back to his goalkeeper landed right at the feet of Christopher Nkunku in front of goal. Flekken got a crucial touch on the Frenchman's shot, but it still needed clearing off the line by the alert Nico Schlotterbeck, who celebrated his moment by punching the air.
The team from Germany's former East kept up the pressure after the restart, Nkunku spinning and shooting into the arms of Flekken. Indeed, it was just when Leipzig appeared to have wrestled full control that they suffered a significant setback. Following a breakaway move, Lucas Höler was dragged back while bearing down on goal by a panic-stricken Marcel Halstenberg. The referee showed no hesitation in showing a straight red to the Leipzig man. It almost got even better for the Black Forest side, Grifo's free kick skimming the side netting, before Sallai went just as close soon afterwards. With the destiny of the 2022 final now looking set, Leipzig levelled via Nkunku's fourth goal in the competition, which arrived after Willi Orban's looping header caused confusion in the Freiburg area. Dani Olmo failed to win it with a prodded shot thereafter and the third game between these teams this season ended 1-1 after 90 minutes. In the extended period, Janik Haberer's shot was touched onto the post by Peter Gulacsi, with Ermedin Demirovic skying the rebound with an empty goal at his mercy. Haberer found the woodwork again with a spectacular volley and after Freiburg survived a late Leipzig penalty shout, it was left to a spot-kick lottery to decide the outcome. Christian Günter and Demirovic failed to score with their penalties for Freiburg, while Die Roten Bullen converted four to take the trophy at the third time of asking.
- Leipzig win he DFB Cup, after runners-up finishes in 2018/19 and 2020/21.
- Eggestein brought his goalscoring tally to three in all competitions for Freiburg with his opener in the final.
- Nkunku finishes the season with 35 goals and 18 assists in 52 games in all competitions. He struck four in the DFB Cup.
- The final was Streich’s 396th match as Freiburg coach. It was Leipzig’s 396th match at professional level.
- Höler ends the tournament as the top assist provider, laying on five goals.
- Die Roten Bullen and the Black Forest club were promoted to the Bundesliga together in 2016. Freiburg topped the Bundesliga 2 table that season, but Leipzig still boast the better overall head-to-head record (W6, D5, L4).
Freiburg: Flekken - Gulde (K. Schlotterbeck 106'), Lienhart, N. Schlotterbeck - Kübler, Eggestein (Haberer 86'), Höfler, Günter (c) - Sallai (Demirovic 79'), Höler (Petersen 79'), Grifo
Unused subs: Uphoff, Schmid, Sildillia, Jeong, Weißhaupt
Out: Keitel (broken toe), Schade (abdominals)
Coach: Christian Streich
Leipzig: Gulacsi (c) - Simakan (Gvardiol 113'), Orban, Klostermann - Henrichs, Laimer (Adams 98'), Kampl (Olmo 69'), Halstenberg - Forsberg (Szoboszlai 61') - Nkunku, Silva (Mukiele 61')
Unused subs: Martinez, Angelino, Haidara, Poulsen
Coach: Domenico Tedesco
As it happened
LEIPZIG WIN THE CUP!
Leipzig put the heartache of their two previous runners-up finishes behind them. They showed tremendous fight to get back in the game following Halstenberg's sending off in the 57th minute. But spare a thought for Freiburg - Streich's side have had a tremendous season.
4-2 - FREIBURG MISS!
Demirovic against the bar. Leipzig are 2022 DFB Cup winners!
4-2 - LEIPZIG SCORE!
Henrichs with authority into the bottom corner...
3-2 - FREIBURG SCORE!
Keven Schlotterbeck just about beats Gulacsi...
3-1 - LEIPZIG SCORE!
Olmo makes it three from three...
2-1 - FREIBURG MISS!
Günter fires over. Advantage Leipzig...
2-1 - LEIPZIG SCORE!
Orban into the corner. Flekken didn't move...
1-1 - FREIBURG SCORE!
Petersen sends Gulacsi the wrong way...
1-0 - LEIPZIG SCORE!
No mistake by Nkunku...
SEA OF WHITE
The penalties will be taken in front of the Leipzig end. Nkunku's first up...
PENALTIES IT IS!
Spot-kicks will decide the destination of the 2021/22 DFB Cup after the match ends 1-1 after extra time...
Not a penalty. The Leipzig players are furious with the decision, no one more so than Kampl. He was booked when he was still on the pitch, and receives a second yellow card for his protestations in the dugout.
Olmo goes down under Höfler's challenge in the penalty area. The referee's going to check this one...
So, so close for Freiburg. Haberer takes on Günter's deflected shot from 20 yards. Gulacsi's beaten, but the ball sails behind off the top of the bar. Get that man involved in the crossbar challenge!
ONE EYE ON THE SHOOTOUT
Gvardiol has a pretty decent shot on him. He'll likely be one of the Leipzig players to take a penalty - unless we're treated to a winner in the final six minutes of extra time...
FREIBURG TAKE CHARGE
Freiburg are dictating the play now. Can they make their man advantage count?
Freiburg should be ahead! Schmid's shot from range falls kindly for Haberer, who forces a strong diving save out of Gulacsi. Demirovic takes on the rebound, but sends his effort over with the entire Leipzig goal to aim for. How costly could that be?!
WORTH A GO!
Schlotterbeck marches into Leipzig territory, before laying the ball off for Haberer, who shoots over from the edge of the area.
Gulacsci aims long for Mukiele. He immediately looks for Nkunku in the box, but his cross is too close to Flekken.
US international Tyler Adams replaces Laimer in the Leipzig engine room. He should ruffle some Freiburg feathers...
Günter finds the head of Demirovic from a corner, but a deflection takes it wide. Gulacsi gets both hands on the next delivery.
The first half of extra time kicks off in Berlin. Leipzig have the momentum - can Freiburg find a second wind?
ALIVE AND NKUNKING
That was Nkunku's 35th competitive goal of the season. He's scored in some huge games, but that could yet be his most important effort yet in Leipzig colours...
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Schlotterbeck with a vital intervention to prevent an Nkunku cross finding a man. We're heading for extra time...
End of second half
Leipzig's head coach talks his way into the referee's book. He wanted a Freiburg player booked.
TIME ADDED ON
Four minutes of additional time. If there's no winner, we'll have 30 minutes of extra time and possibly even penalties...
Haberer's on for Freiburg goalscorer Eggestein, who's worked his socks off in the middle of the park.
KNOCKING AT THE DOOR
Those Leipzig changes have made the world of difference as Szoboslai tests Flekken and Olmo has an effort charged down. They're not playing like they've had a man sent off. If anything, Leipzig are the better side...
TWO UP TOP
Streich is going for this. Strikers Demirovic and Petersen are on, with extra time looking large...
LEIPZIG ARE LEVEL!
Szoboslai's free-kick is into the wall. Laimer clips in a cross that Orban flicks on to the far post, where Nkunku is in the right place at the right time to prod the ball over the line. Game on in the capital!
GOAL! 1 : 1
Defensive midfielder Kampl, who's on a booking, makes way for playmaker Olmo. Can the Spain international provide the spark Leipzig so desperately need?
More power this time, but not the accuracy from Freiburg's top scorer, who fires a yard or so over.
We all know Grifo has spectacular goals in his locker, but this time his distance shot lacks the necessary oomph and is easy for Gulacsi.
Tedesco sacrifices Silva, who's been starved of service in the lone striker's role. Mukiele is on, with Henrichs shifting to left-back to plug the hole left by Halstenberg. Szoboszlai replaces Forsberg in attack in a move that should see Nkunku operate as a false No.9.
Sallai scampers into the Leipzig box, taking Orban with him. The angle's tight, though, and his shot is into the side netting. Freiburg smell blood...
LEIPZIG DOWN TO 10 MEN!
Hammer blow for Leipzig. Halstenberg's the last man as he brings down Höler on the edge of the area. No complaints with the decision - he knew he had to go. Die Roten Bullen have a mountain to climb...
LEIPZIG TURNING THE SCREW
Sustained pressure from Leipzig since the restart as Flekken beats Silva to a Klostermann punt. They're now up to 58 percent possession, and are also finding a man with 82 percent of their attempted passes.
Schlotterbeck is first to Henrich's chipped pass, but succeeds only in teeing up Nkunku on the penalty spot. Luckily for him, Flekken is equal to the Bundesliga Player of the Season's effort.
HERE WE GO AGAIN!
A massive half of football in the history of both clubs coming up. Whatever happens, we'll have a first-time DFB Cup winner...
THE MOMENT EGGESTEIN BROKE THE DEADLOCK
© Getty Images
ADVANTAGE FREIBURG AT THE BREAK!
Leipzig with one final push, but Simakan can't do anything with a deep Halstenberg cross. Freiburg are good value for their lead - they took their chance through Eggestein and have hustled and harried the opposition from the get-go. Nkunku has barely been in the game.
Laimer combines with Silva, before firing a shot comfortably wide of Flekken's goal. Credit to Freiburg - they're blocking off all the channels.
Forsberg sends a free-kick into the Freiburg box. Simakan has his back towards goal, though, and can't make anything of the opening. That sums up Leipzig's frustrations this first half. Nothing's going their way.
Goalscorer Eggestein fails to trouble Gulacsi from range. Orban can do no better with Leipzig's next attack. Freiburg will be very happy with how they're restricting Tedesco's side in the final third. Precious little joy for them so far.
Freiburg's good work is almost undone. Höfler's attempted backwards header is picked off by Nkunku. He hits it well, but Flekken gets something on it and Schlotterbeck completes the clearance.
That's Eggestein's third goal of the season in all competitions. He was on target in Bundesliga 2 for Bremen, before making the switch to Freiburg late in the summer, and opened his account for Die Breisgauer at the fifth attempt in a Bundesliga win over Augsburg.
There's a VAR check for a possible handball against Sallai, but the goal stands!
Now there's something to separate them! Grifo sends Günter away up the left-hand side. Sallai can't control his captain's ball into the box, but Eggestein is following in and makes no mistake with his finish.
GOAL! 1 : 0
It's been a cautious opening from both sides in Berlin. Very little to choose between them.
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First sight of the Freiburg goal for Leipzig, and almost the opening goal. Flekken can only parry Forsberg's strike from a tight angle. Nkunku gets a shot off in the ensuing scramble, but a deflection takes it over the crossbar.
Sallai runs at Klostermann and earns a free-kick. Grifo whips it into the danger zone, but Simakan is able to clear. Freiburg scored a league-high 17 headed goals this past Bundesliga season, and are clearly playing to their strengths.
HÖFLER HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE
Höfler's heavily involved in the early exchanges, the Freiburg midfielder winning a corner off Simakan. Leipzig only half clear, but Grifo's shot from range is blocked and the chance is gone.
Momentary concern for Leipzig as Nkunku goes to ground following a clash of heads with Höfler. He goes off for treatment, but doesn't take long to return to the field of play.
KICK OFF !
Leipzig get us underway in the DFB Cup final. Here we go ...
TEAMS ARE OUT
An incredible atmosphere greets the players who are lining up for the national anthem.
IT'S ALMOST TIME
We're just minutes from kick off now. Who will get their hands on the DFB Cup for the first time? Leipzig boast a better head to head, winning six and drawing four of the teams' 14 encounters to date. Yet Freiburg have played every game of this season's Pokal away from home, triumphing in all five of their Cup trips. It all adds to the intrigue of what is set to be an eventful night of football.
MAN ON A MISSION
What more can be said about Christopher Nkunku this season? The Leipzig No.18 has been in such top form this term that he even earned his first senior caps for France. The 24-year-old has three goals and provided three assists in the DFB Cup so far while his overall record for 2021/22 reads: Played 51, Scored 34, Assisted 18.
Freiburg have Jeong and Nils Petersen among the substitutes today. Jeong has five goals and two assists already this term, while Petersen has struck seven times. He's Freiburg's record marksman and the Bundesliga's all-time leading substitute scorer. Curiously, though, the former Bayern striker has scored 19 of his 20 DFB Cup goals to date as a starter.
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM?
Lukas Klostermann is among the twice-beaten finalists in the current Leipzig side. He's determined to make it a case of third time lucky today. "I’m not looking back to the past. My eyes are focused forward on the game against Freiburg," the Germany international told DFB.de. "Every Bundesliga player dreams of playing in the DFB-Pokal final, but we want to finish the job with a happy ending this time round."
PAIR OF DRAWS
Leipzig and Freiburg played out 1-1 draws in this season's Bundesliga. Until the penultimate weekend, Freiburg had the edge in the race for fourth, but back-to-back defeats to end the season dropped them to sixth as Leipzig secured the final Champions League qualifying berth.
WATCH: FREIBURG 1-1 LEIPZIG
WATCH: LEIPZIG 1-1 FREIBURG
MORE ON THOSE TEAMS
Streich opts for a three-man backline, with defender Manuel Gulde coming in at the expense of attacker Jeong Woo-yeong. Lukas Klostermann starts in place of Joskov Gvardiol for Leipzig, while Marcel Halstenberg is preferred to Angelino on the left-hand flank.
LEIPZIG STARTING LINE-UP
Gulacsi (c) - Simakan, Orban, Klostermann - Henrichs, Laimer, Kampl, Halstenberg - Forsberg - Nkunku, Silva
Martinez, Angelino, Gvardiol, Mukiele, Adams, Olmo, Haidara, Szoboszlai, Poulsen
FREIBURG STARTING LINE-UP
Flekken - Gulde, Lienhart, N. Schlotterbeck - Kübler, Eggestein, Höfler, Günter (c) - Sallai, Höler, Grifo
Uphoff, K. Schlotterbeck, Schmid, Sildillia, Haberer, Jeong, Weißhaupt, Demirovic, Petersen
What a season it has been for Freiburg and what a way they could finish it this evening. The Black Forest side were pushing all the way for Champions League qualification until the final day of the Bundesliga season, before eventually securing Europa League group stage qualification with sixth spot in the domestic standings. "We will give our all on the pitch and hopefully get our reward for a great season," captain Christian Günter said of the possibilities tonight's game brings.
ROAD TO THE FINAL II
Need to know how Domenico Tedesco's men advanced to the Cup final? Then look no further, for here follows the teams Leipzig have gotten past en route to Berlin: Sandhausen (4-0), Babelsberg (1-0), Hansa Rostock (2-0), Hannover (4-0) and Union Berlin (2-1).
ROAD TO THE FINAL
Here's who Freiburg have faced, and defeated, to reach the DFB Cup final: Würzburger Kickers (1-0), Osnabrück (2-2 - 3-2 on penalties), Hoffenheim (4-1), Bochum (2-1 after extra-time) and Hamburg (3-1).
Leipzig's, Peter Gulacsi, has also been giving his thoughts on the Berlin showpiece, the 'keeper admitting, "We're absolutely buzzing for the final, we can't wait. It will be a real spectacle. We want to crown a fantastic 2022 so far with the trophy."
Speaking of Streich, here's what Freiburg's veteran tactician had to say ahead of tonight's final: "We’ve played each other a fair few times now and the games have always been high class. I’m excited to play against Leipzig. I hope that it will be a close game and we can go toe-to-toe with them."
The final is Christian Streich’s 396th match as Freiburg coach while it is Leipzig’s 396th match at professional level.
Whatever the outcome at the magnificent Olympiastadion this evening, there will be a new name on the DFB Cup. Freiburg are looking to win what would be a first major trophy in their 118-year history while Leizpig, who have only been going for 13 years, would love nothing more than to mark their third appearance in the final with victory.
IT'S CUP FINAL DAY !
That's right, the big one is here. Freiburg versus RB Leipzig in a Berlin showpiece that's certain to thrill. So settle in, because our coverage of the DFB Cup final begins right here.