RB Leipzig narrowly edged Werder Bremen to book their place in the DFB Cup final on Friday night, with Emil Forsberg clinching a dramatic 2-1 victory for his side in stoppage time of extra-time.
Werder 1-2 Leipzig
Goals: 0-1 Hwang (93’), 1-1 Bittencourt (105'+1), 1-2 Forsberg (120'+1)
In search of a second DFB Cup final appearance in their history, Leipzig flew out of the traps and took just four minutes to force Werder goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka into action. Angelino’s cross with the outside of his foot picked out Alexander Sörloth, whose header looked destined for the back of the net until Pavlenka intervened low to his right. Half an hour in, Josh Sargent should’ve put Bremen ahead. But - having superbly held off the challenge of Dayot Upamecano - the American striker could only shin wide when one-on-one with Peter Gulasci. The hosts then thought they had a penalty on the stroke of half time, only for the referee to overturn his own decision after checking the pitch-side monitors as the two sides went into the break goalless.
Leipzig’s waves of attack after the break were continually met by stubborn Werder resistance, and if it wasn’t the Bremen defence denying Leipzig, it was the woodwork - Willi Orban and Christopher Nkunku denied by crossbar and post, respectively. Both sides pushed for a late winner but neither could find their range, sending the game into 30 minutes of extra-time. Leipzig needed just three of those to finally break the deadlock as late sub Hee-chan Hwang pounced to put his team in front. But Bremen weren’t done, with Leonardo Bittencourt pulling them level with an excellent finish after a mistake from Upamecano. The game looked destined for penalties, until Forsberg popped up in the dying embers of extra-time to volley home Hwang’s cushioned header.
- Bittencourt’s goal was his fifth of the campaign, but first in the cup in his second appearance.
- Bremen and Leipzig both conceded for the first time in this season’s competition.
Hwang is yet to score a Bundesliga goal for Leipzig, but has scored three times in four DFB Cup appearances this season.
- Leipzig have now reached the German cup final for only the second time in their history; they previously finished as runners-up after losing to Bayern Munich in the 2018/19 final.
- Julian Nagelsmann's side have won eight of their 10 meetings with Bremen, including each of the last five - albeit this was secured in extra-time.
- The soon-to-be Bayern coach’s personal record against Bremen now stretches to five wins from five and reads overall as: P8, W5, D2, L1.
Bremen: Pavlenka - Veljkovic, Groß (Bargfrede 119’), Moisander (c) - Gebre Selassie, Eggestein, Mbom (Bittencourt 73’), Augustinsson - Sargent, Selke (Möhwald 96’) - Füllkrug (Osako 66’)
Unused subs: Zetterer, Schmid, Erras, Rieckmann, Dinkci
Out: Friedl (knock), Plogmann (knee), Toprak (calf), Woltemade (knee)
Coach: Florian Kohfeldt
Leipzig: Gulacsi - Orban, Konate, Upamecano - Mukiele, Sabitzer (c) (Poulsen 74’), Kampl, Angelino (Henrichs 103’) - Olmo, Haidara (Nkunku 46’) (Forsberg 114’) - Sörloth (Hwang 90’)
Unused subs: Martinez, Adams, Klostermann, Laimer
Out: Szoboszlai (groin)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
As it happened!
LEIPZIG REACH THE FINAL!
It's a hugely bitter blow for Bremen to concede so late on, having battled so bravely for 120 minutes, but ultimately Forsberg's goal was decisive. Leipzig were were superior in a goalless first half, even if Bremen had their chances, but the hosts pushed their visitors all the way. Leipzig will now meet either Borussia Dortmund or Holstein Kiel in the final on 13 May.
FORSBERG SURELY WINS IT!
Kampl dinks a cross into the box, Hwang heads it back across goal and Forsberg arrives in the six-yard box to force it over the line!
TWO MORE MINUTES!
We had a late goal at the end of the first half of extra time. Will the same happen here?
Nkunku goes off. He looks to have been hurt in a tackle. Forsberg takes his place; the Swede is a good penalty taker, should it come to that.
The players are still giving their all, but more and more passes are going astray now as legs tire.
BIG GOAL FROM BITTENCOURTIt was the midfielder's first goal in the cup this season, and just his fifth overall in 2020/21.
© Pool/Focke Strangmann - Pool/Getty Im
OVER FROM POULSEN!
A glorious chance for Leipzig as the ball falls kindly for Mukiele at the back post. He struck the frame of the goal from a similar position earlier, but doesn't make a clean connection this time. Still, it comes to Poulsen in the centre, and the Dane tries to redirect it towards goal, but can only steer it over the bar.
15 MORE MINUTES
There are some tired legs out there now. Will we have a winner or will it go to penalties?
There appears to be little danger as Bremen try to loft a ball over the Leipzig defence, but Upamecano's back pass towards Gulacsi falls short, allowing Bittencourt to nip in, go around the goalkeeper and fire the hosts level!
THREE ADDED MINUTES
We're almost at the halfway stage of extra time...
The 24-year-old, who only recently returned from injury, is taken off. He went down with cramp in his calf a few moments ago, so Nagelsmann is taking no risks.
THREE FOR HWANGThe South Korean now has three goals in the competition this season, putting him two behind top scorer Poulsen, who has five.
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CHANGE UP TOP
Selke looks to be in some discomfort as he limps from the pitch having picked up a knock. Möhwald comes on to replace him.
Kampl slides a pass into Poulsen's feet just inside the Bremen box. He nudges it on to Hwang, who holds off his marker well before rolling the ball past Pavlenka and into the bottom corner.
HERE WE GO AGAIN
Bremen get extra time underway after a brief hydration break,
INTO EXTRA TIME
Pavlenka's save was the last touch of the regulation 90 minutes, so we're going into extra time now.
Angelino drives a cross into the box from the left. Poulsen gets his head to it on the edge of the six-yard area, but Pavlenka pulls off a stunning save to keep it out!
POULSEN GOES CLOSE!
Orban loops a header into the box and Poulsen meets it at the back post. His effort bounces inches wide, though.
FOUR MINUTES OF STOPPAGE TIME
The final whistle is approaching. We'll be going into extra time if there's no late drama here.
LAST CHANCE TO WIN IT?
Orban fouls Selke, wide on the right, just outside the area, giving the home side a free-kick in a dangerous position. Augustinsson curls it into the danger zone, but a Leipzig head is able to clear.
Bremen surge forward on the counter after a Leipzig attack breaks down. Augustinsson darts behind Upamecano to collect the ball and is now Bremen's furthest player forward. He has nobody to pass to so, seeing Gulacsi off his line, attempts to lob him from a long way out. He doesn't get enough power behind it though, and the Leipzig custodian saves.
ANOTHER SÖRLOTH HEADER
Another short corner from Leipzig and again the ball finds Sörloth's head. He's under a lot of pressure though and can't get any direction on his effort, and it rolls out for a goal kick.
NKUNKU HITS THE POST!
Leipzig strike the woodwork yet again! Nkunku brilliantly controls Angelino's cross from the left, taking the ball in his stride and getting a shot away all in one movement. His toe-poke is going in, but Pavlenka tips it onto the post and it bounces clear!
Leipzig also make their second substitution, with Nagelsmann bringing on Poulsen for an extra body up top. Sabitzer hands him the captain's armband as he leaves the field.
Mbom appears to have picked up a knock, so he's replaced in midfield by Bittencourt.
SO CLOSESörloth's header that struck the bar: that's two good aerial chances for the Leipzig striker in this game. No luck so far.
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WIDE FROM OSAKO
The Bremen attacker, who's only been on the pitch a couple of minutes, has a great chance as he times his run brilliantly to meet Augustinsson's in-swinging free-kick from the right- He gets his head on the ball, but can only direct it wide of the target.
SÖRLOTH HITS THE BAR!
A short corner between Angelino and Nkunku ends with the latter crossing into the box. Sörloth rises highest and gets his head on it, but it hits the bar and bounces down. Mukiele tries to get to the rebound, but Mbom just beats him to it!
RINSE AND REPEAT
The match has settled into a familiar rhythm over the last few minutes: Leipzig attacking and Bremen defending in numbers, not allowing them in behind.
OVER FROM ANGELIO
Moisander trips Olmo just outside the Bremen penalty area, right of centre. Angelino takes the resultant free-kick with his left foot, but can't get the ball up and over the wall and down again, and his strike whistles well over the bar.
ANOTHER HEADER FROM SÖRLOTH
The big Norwegian gets his head to Sabitzer's lofted cross from the left. It's slightly behind him though, and he's under pressure from Moisander, so can't get much power behind it and Pavlenka makes a routine save.
The away side are starting to look more dangerous now that Nkunku is on the pitch, and the Frenchman is demanding the ball and trying to make something happen. Bremen are being pinned back as Leipzig begin to gather momentum.
MUKIELE HITS THE POST!
Kampl slips a pass into Mukiele's path on the overlap on the right. The wing-back unleashes a vicious shot across goal that beats Pavlenka but hits the far post and bounces clear. It wouldn't have counted had it gone in though, as the assistant referee raises his flag for offside.
FIRST LEIPZIG ATTACK
Olmo strides forward in midfield, drawing a defender towards him before sliding a pass out to his left to Angelino. The Spaniard tries to shoot from the edge of the area but it's blocked by Gebre Selassie. Still, it's their best foray forward in this half; Bremen had kept them in check until that point.
Leipzig get the ball rolling again. Head coach Julian Nagelsmann has brought on Nkunku at half-time for Haidara, who was on a yellow card.
ALL SQUARE AT THE BREAK
Leipzig enjoyed the better start and had the first chance of the game through Sörloth, whose header was well saved by Pavlenka. They struggled to trouble the Bremen custodian after that though, and the home side improved as the half wore on, with Sargent firing wide after superbly getting the better of Upamecano. Selke was initially awarded a penalty in the 44th minute, only for the decision to be reverse, leaving the match goalless and finely poised as we go into the second half.
FOUR MORE MINUTES
That break in play, plus a couple of injuries, mean there will be four minutes of stoppage time at the end of this half.
The referee overturns his initial decision to award a penalty.
The referee is consulting the pitch-side monitor.
PENALTY TO BREMEN!
Gräfe points to the spot after Mukiele trips Selke in the box!
Tempers flare briefly in the middle of the pitch after a couple of strong tackles, but referee Manuel Gräfe quickly defuses the situation and we're underway again.
WIDE FROM VELJKOVIC
Augustinsson whips in Bremen's first corner of the game from the right. It's half-cleared and falls for Veljkovic, who immediately volleys the ball goalwards. He doesn't catch it cleanly though and his effort bobbles well wide.
COSTLY MISS?Sargent has two goals in the DFB Cup so far this season, scoring one in the first round against Carl Zeiss Jena and again in the second round against Hannover. He's had two shots so far in this game, his most recent one the clearest opening at either end.
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WIDE FROM SARGENT!
Brilliant play from Sargent as Selke flick's on a long ball forward from Pavlenka. The USA international somehow muscles Upamecano off the ball inside the Leipzig penalty area and only has Gulacsi to beat... but he strokes his shot wide of the post! Bremen could and probably should be ahead here!
KOHFELDT PUMPED UP
A huge roar from Bremen coach Kohfeldt on the touchline as Augustinsson chases to his left and makes a crunching slide tackle on Haidara, winning a throw-in in the process. It's those little battles that Bremen haven't been winning so far, hence the coach's delight at his left-back's attitude.
WIDE FROM SÖRLOTH
The Leipzig forward gets behind the Bremen defence and shoots low with his left foot. It goes wide but wouldn't have counted anyway; the flag is raised for offside.
SAFETY IN NUMBERS
Bremen are sitting ever deeper now as they look to repel Leipzig's advances. The visitors are attacking with pace and purpose, but can't find a way through in a crowded final third.
SÖRLOTH LIVELYThe Norwegian forward has had the game's best chance so far, and has been holding up play well for his teammates.
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WIDE FROM MUKIELE
A pocket of space opens up for Mukiele, about 25 yards from goal, right of centre. He immediately gets a shot away, but drags it well wide of the far post.
LOVELY EFFORT FROM OLMO
Sörloth does brilliantly to hold off three defenders on the edge of the Bremen box. He touches it back to Olmo, who spies Pavlenka off his line. The Spaniard goes for a delicate chip, and while he gets the right height and power, his angles are slightly off and the ball floats wide.
Leipzig have had 74 per cent of possession, completed 70 passes to Bremen's 27 and have had all three corners so far, giving an indication of the flow of the game.
Another cross from Angelino, again from the right. This time it goes deep to the back post but Pavlenka comes off his line well to punch clear in a crowded box.
LEIPZIG ON TOP
The visitors are starting to exert their authority here, although Bremen holding their own well. A short corner between Angelino and Olmo looks promising initially, but Angelino's eventual delivery from the corner of the penalty area is blocked.
Bremen have their first effort on goal just seconds later as Sargent is released into the left-hand side of the Leipzig box. He gets a shot away on his weaker left foot, but Gulacsi is equal to it.
SÖRLOTH DENIED BY PAVLENKA!
The first chance of the game falls to the visitors as Angelino floats in a cross from the left with the outside of his boot. It's perfect for Sörloth, arriving on the penalty spot, but his firm header is superbly saved by Pavlenka, diving low to his right!
There's been no period of sparring here: both teams are going for it! Plenty of tackles flying in as both teams press high.
AND WE'RE OFF
Füllkrug has the first touch of the game as Bremen get the ball rolling.
Leipzig haven't recorded the same result in two successive games from their last seven in the league (D, W, L, W, D, L, W), which sums up their recent inconsistency. They have acted swiftly in securing Jesse Marsch as Nagelsmann's successor, but the outgoing boss will be desperate to land the cup on his way out of the Red Bull Arena and they stand a good chance of doing so if they can find the form that positioned them as Bayern's nearest rivals for the Meisterschale this season.
It's safe to say Werder haven't been enjoying themselves in the league lately, losing their last seven to leave them firmly in the relegation battle. Their sole victory from their previous eight in all competitions was the 1-0 win at SSV Jahn Regensburg in the quarter-finals. They need to improve, and quickly.
HORSES FOR CAUSES
There are a couple of surprises in both ranks by way of team selections. From Werder boss Kohfeldt, his most notable addition is Selke coming back into the starting line-up to join Sargent in support of Füllkrug. As for Nagelsmann - aiming to go out on a high before joining Bayern Munich in the summer - he has plenty of options on the bench, chief among them USA international Adams, French schemer Nkunku and the attacking trio of Poulsen, Forsberg and Hwang.
Subs: Martinez, Poulsen, Forsberg, Hwang, Adams, Klostermann, Nkunku, Laimer, Henrichs
Subs: Zetterer, Möhwald, Osako, Bittencourt, Schmid, Erras, Rieckmann, Bargfrede, Dinkci
LEIPZIG TEAM NEWS
Leipzig: Gulacsi - Orban, Konate, Upamecano - Mukiele, Sabitzer (c), Kampl, Angelino - Olmo, Haidara - Sörloth
WERDER TEAM NEWS
Bremen: Pavlenka - Veljkovic, Groß, Moisander (c) - Gebre Selassie, Eggestein, Mbom, Augustinsson - Sargent, Selke - Füllkrug
WELCOME TO OUR FIRST DFB CUP SEMI-FINAL
A very good morning, afternoon or evening to you wherever in the world you are joining us from and welcome to our first semi-final of this year's DFB Cup. Hosts Werder Bremen will be looking to put their poor league form behind them, while visitors RB Leipzig are aiming to end their wait for a first major trophy in their history. It should be a cracker and, with kick-off less than an hour away, team news will be dropping any minute...