Kaiserslautern got the better of Saarbrücken to reach the 2023/24 DFB Cup final. - © IMAGO/Fabian Kleer
Kaiserslautern got the better of Saarbrücken to reach the 2023/24 DFB Cup final. - © IMAGO/Fabian Kleer

Kaiserslautern beat Saarbrücken to reach DFB Cup final


Kaiserslautern ended third-tier Saarbrucken's fairy-tale run to set up a DFB Cup final with runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Saarbrücken 0-2 Kaiserslautern
Goals: 0-1
Ritter 53' (assist: Touré), 0-2 Touré 75' (assist: Puchacz)

Eleventh in Germany's 3. Liga, Saarbrücken had enjoyed a giant-killing ride to the semi-finals, accounting for Bundesliga trio Bayern Munich, Eintracht Frankfurt (2-0) and Borussia Mönchengladbach - as well as Bundesliga 2 outfit Karslruhe - in the previous rounds. Rüdiger Ziehl's plucky underdogs just about edged a competitive first half, though clear-cut chances were very much at a premium. Kai Brünker spurned the best of them, the Saarbrücken striker stooping to head a probing Marcel Gaus cross wide with 42 minutes on the clock.

That miss proved costly as Kaiserslautern's Marlon Ritter stole a yard in the penalty area to head Almamy Touré's centre through the legs of Tim Schreiber soon after the restart. Saarbrücken huffed and puffed in response, but could not blow the Kaiserslautern door down. The Red Devils were clinical by comparison, with Tymoteusz Puchacz setting up Touré for another headed effort that rubber-stamped his team's place in the final on 25 May. Leverkusen await after dispatching Fortuna Düsseldorf in the other last-four tie

Match stats

  • Kaiserslautern are through to their third DFB Cup final. They beat Karlsruhe to the trophy in 1996, before losing the 2003 edition to Bayern.
  • The Red Devils got the better of Koblenz (5-0), Bundesliga outfit Cologne (3-2), Nuremberg (2-0) and Hertha Berlin (3-1) en route to the last four.
  • Though not in charge for the previous rounds, Friedhelm Funkel has now guided teams to the final on three occasions. As a Kaiserslautern player, he was a runner-up in 1981.
  • Touré was a DFB Cup runner-up with Eintracht Frankfurt in 2022/23.
  • A Bundesliga 2 club will contest a DFB Cup final for the first time since 2010/11, when Duisburg were beaten 5-0 by then Bundesliga side Schalke.
  • Saarbrücken were making their fifth semi-final appearance overall, but have never gone further.


Saarbrücken: Schreiber - Thoelke, Zeitz (c) (Biada 78'), Boeder - Rizzuto, Kerber, Sontheimer (Civeja 67'), Gaus (Di Michele Sanchez 67') - Naïfi (Stehle 67'), Brünker, Rabihić (Uaferro 86')
Unused subs: Paterok, D. Becker, R. Becker, Günther-Schimdt
Out: Jacob (knee), Neudecker (groin), Schmidt (broken leg)
Rüdiger Ziehl 

Kaiserslautern: Himmelmann - Touré, Elvedi, Tomiak - J. Zimmer (c) (Ronstadt 78'), Niehues, Kaloč, Puchacz - Redondo (Opoku 31'), Ritter - Hanslik (Stojilkovic 67')
Unused subs: Spahic, K. Kraus, Raschl, Abiama, Simakala, Tachie
Out: Ache (muscular), Klement (muscular), Krahl (hand), Zuck (knee) 
Friedhelm Funkel

As it happened!

0 - 2

(0 - 0)

DFB Pokal
Semi-final Ludwigsparkstadion

Full-time: Saarbrücken 0-2 Kaiserslautern

It's tears for Saarbrücken as their fairytale ends, but another one continues as Kaiserslautern book an incredible spot at Berlin for the DFB Cup final. Friedhelm Funkel has been out of work since 2021, but his last hurrah is set for a Hollywood ending when his side face either Fortuna Düsseldorf or Bayer Leverkusen in Berlin on May 25.

Four minutes for a miracle

The fourth official puts his board up and it's four minutes for Saarbrücken to do something extraordinary.

That could be it

Simon Fabio Stehle flashes a header just wide of the FCK post, and they really needed that one to go in to have any chance of overturning a two-goal deficit.

Almost game over

Straight after Brünker goes close to making it 2-1, Stojilkovic nearly makes it 3-1 at the other end of the pitch.

Was that the chance?

Brünker has his hardest chance of the game, but still almost scores with a snapshot from just outside the six-yard box.

Tensions boiling over

A skirmish breaks out straight after Toure's goal and the referee cools things down with four yellow cards.

Kaiserslautern take full control!

That could be it for Saarbrücken's dream! Tymoteusz Puchacz fires in a deep free-kick from wide left, and up jumps Almamy Toure with a commanding header to double the scoreline.
Almamy Touré

So close

Kaiserslautern counter and Stojilkovic just has to find Opoku for a golden one-on-one chance with the goalkeeper. His pass isn't good enough though and FCK will rue that if their opponents come back into the game.

Don't count them out

Saarbrücken may be a goal down, but they've already come from behind twice in this competition against Bundesliga opposition in Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach.


FCK threaded together a brilliant passing move and found Opoku in space out wide. Manuel Zeitz did what he had to do, and stopped a potential goal, picking up a yellow, but the away bench wanted more.

Brünker again!

FCS's top scorer in the competition, Brünker, fails to test the goalkeeper with another good chance. Gaus did well with a dangerous pass across the six-yard box, but the striker's attempted backheel didn't connect.

We have a goal!

Whatever Funkel has said at half-time clearly worked, with Kaiserslautern creating chances before Marlon Ritter opens the scoring. Touré finds the forward and Tim Schreiber will want that one back, having let the ball through his legs at the near post
Marlon Ritter

Flow state

Both teams are creating far more to start the second half, and it looks like a goal could well be on its way.

Great start

Kaiserslautern get off to a far stronger start for the second half and register their first shot on target through Filip Kaloc.

Back underway

There's no changes from either side as we kick off for the second period.

Half-time: Saarbrücken 0-0 Kaiserslautern

A cagey first-half was far more about defending and midfield battles than chances, but the home third division side just edged it, and should have had the lead through Brünker's late header.

Huge chance!

The best chance of the game sees a free kick steered straight onto the head of Kai Brünker, and he thumps it wide in plenty of space.

Set piece chances

It's now 7-5 in free kicks and 2-0 in corners to the home side, but so far FCK are dealing with the threat well

High boot

Boris Tomiak evens up the yellow card count with a high boot as things continue to get nippy in midfield.


Patrick Sontheimer steams into Calogero Rizzuto for the game's first yellow card, but it was coming as things were getting heated in midfield.

First corner

Saarbrücken win the game's first corner, and there's more bad news for the away side who lose Kenny Redondo to injury with Aaron Opoku coming on in his place.


Saarbrücken have the first extended spell in their opponent's penalty area. Marcel Gaus' trademark long throw causes chaos, but Kaiserslauten clear their lines, not once, but twice.

New territory?

Despite taking the headlines, Saarbrücken have been in the DFB Cup semi-finals as recently as 2020. FCK, meanwhile, last made it this far in 2014.


Saarbrücken keep trying with quick balls over the top, but so far Kaiserslautern's defence has been dialled-in, playing them offside.

What's at stake

A win for Saarbrücken would make them the first third division side in the DFB Cup final, victory for Kaiserslautern would book them their eighth final spot overall, having twice won the cup in 1990 and 1996.

Heating up

What an atmosphere we have at the Ludwigsparkstadion in south west Germany for what is a local derby of sorts.

Switch up

Kaiserslautern slowly take control of the game and have a decent spell in the opposition half, but so far it's come to nothing.

First attack

Kaiserslautern absorb the pressure and attack dangerously, winning a free kick and the chance to get their players in the home team box.

Home advantage

Saarbrücken are using the incredible atmosphere at the Ludwigsparkstadion to take the game to their opponents in the early stages.

Here we go!

We're underway as Rüdiger Ziehl's side look to go a step closer to history.

One change for Kaiserslautern

Friedhelm Funkel has made one change to his starting XI from their 3-1 home defeat to Fortuna Düsseldorf. Tobias Raschl makes way for Almamy Touré in defence.

Saarbrücken changes

Since their last competitive league game in mid-march, Rüdiger Ziehl has made three changes to his Saarbrücken line up, bringing in Bjarne Thoelke, Patrick Sontheimer and Kasim Rabihic for Dominik Becker, Tim Civeja and Julian Günther-Schmidt who move to the bench.

Saarbrücken starting XI

Schreiber - Thoelke, Zeitz (c), Boeder - Rizzuto, Kerber, Sontheimer, Gaus - Naïfi, Brünker, Rabihić

Saarbrücken subs

Paterok, D. Becker, R. Becker, Di Michele Sanchez, Uaferro, Biada, Civeja, Günther-Schimdt, Stehle

Kaiserslautern starting XI

Himmelmann - Touré, Elvedi, Tomiak - J. Zimmer (c), Niehues, Kaloč, Puchacz - Redondo, Ritter - Hanslik

Kaiserslautern subs

Spahic, K. Kraus, Ronstadt, Raschl, Abiama, Opoku, Simakala, Stojilkovic, Tachie

Watch: Kaiserslautern's top 5 goals this season

Enjoy the five best goals from DFB Cup semi-finalists Kaiserslautern in the 2023/24 Bundesliga 2 season.

Ziehl on Kaiserslautern

"The second division team is always the favourite in a game like this, even if the opposing coach may see it differently. For us, as in the previous rounds, we have to be compact and disciplined. Kaiserslautern put together a squad to play for promotion to the Bundesliga and invested considerable financial resources. So a lot has to come together again for us so that we can win this game.”

Funkel on Saarbrücken

"I can understand that some people see it differently, but I don't see us as favourites. Saarbrücken defend passionately, solve problems brilliantly and make excellent use of their possession in the final seconds, playing in the right spaces. We're thinking about how we approach the game right from the start."

Cup respite

It's hard to believe from a unexpected semi-finalist, but in the league things aren't going well for Kaiserslautern. Forced into the Bundesliga 2's relegation/promotion spot of 16th last time out, a win here could give the team a much-needed confidence boost for the run in. Two-time winners and five-time runners-up, Kaiserslautern have pedigree in the competition.

Darlings of Germany

In any other season Kaiserslautern would be the story of this match, but Saarbrücken have won the hearts and minds of the German public. When it comes to giant killings, the team from Saarland are taking things to a whole new level. On their list of scalps this season Rüdiger Ziehls' side have Bayern Munich, Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Mönchengladbach to boast about, and their fans have already had a season they'll never forget.

Watch: Kaiserslautern 1-3 Fortuna Düsseldorf

Despite their cup heroics, Bundesliga 2's Kaiserslautern are in a second tier relegation battle. Last time out they struggled against fellow semi-finalists Düsseldorf, who take on Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen in the other fixture.

Watch: All of Saarbrücken's DFB Cup goals so far.

Third tier Saarbrücken have been the story of the season so far in European cup football, upsetting three Bundesliga giants on their way to a final four spot. Here are their goals so far ahead of taking on second tier Kaiserslautern.

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Thanks for joining us for build-up and live coverage of this DFL Cup semi-final clash between Saarbrücken and Kaiserslautern.