Bayern held their nerve when it mattered and booked an appointment with Borussia Dortmund in Berlin on May 12th with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach in Wednesday’s DFB Cup semi-final. The goalless stalemate in normal and extra time lacked incident at times, but was always a dramatic affair, with the Reds enjoying the better of the chances throughout.
The 54,049 full house packed into Borussia Park saw Toni Kroos rattle the woodwork early on as Jupp Heynckes’ side started briskly, and although caution set in for a long spell after that, FCB finished the first half strongly with Arjen Robben blasting over the bar when scoring looked a formality.
Both sides upped the pace in an exciting phase after the restart, before Munich camped out in the final third on the hour and applied increasingly heavy pressure. The decisive goal refused to come in normal time, and Bayern were indebted to Manuel Neuer for a terrific save to prevent Marco Reus settling it late on.
The visitors clearly possessed more drive and energy in extra-time but were unable to break the deadlock, leaving the outcome to be settled in the lottery of the penalty shoot-out, where Dante missed his kick and Neuer saved from Havard Nordtveit to settle the outcome.
The hard-earned but ultimately merited victory means Bayern, already way ahead of the rest with 15 DFB Cup triumphs so far, can extend their lead in the competition in the final at Berlin Olympic stadium, where the opposition are the current Bundesliga leaders. The Bavarians are next in Bundesliga action on Saturday 24 March at home to Europa League quarter-finalists Hannover.
On the back of his side’s 20 goals in the last three games, and the continuing absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger with injury, Heynckes fielded an unchanged team for the fourth match in a row. On the bench, Ivica Olic resumed his place among the subs after a lay-off with a bad back.
Out on the field, Neuer kept goal as usual, with Philipp Lahm and David Alaba at full-back, Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng at centre-half, and Kroos anchoring the midfield alongside Luiz Gustavo. The attacking section bristled with menace as always, with Franck Ribery and Robben taking up station on the wings, and Thomas Müller in behind central striker Mario Gomez.
As he plotted an unprecedented third victory over FCB in a single season, Borussia boss Lucien Favre chose not to recall fit-again Patrick Herrmann to the starting line-up, but did make one change to the team which beat Leverkusen at the weekend, brining in Tony Jantschke at full-back in place of the less mobile Roel Brouwers..
After referee Thorsten Kinhöfer whistled play underway on a delightful spring evening in the Rhineland, the visitors set off at a good pace and nearly took a sixth-minute lead, but after Robben and Müller combined to tee up Kroos, the midfielder’s 18-yard drive cannoned back off the post. Borussia keeper Marc-André ter Stegen then made a superb diving save to keep out Gomez’ firm header from a Lahm cross, but Neuer was called into action for the first time midway through the half, blocking Reus’s path as the tricky winger hared clear into the box.
Ter Stegen flapped badly at a corner, but the men in red were unable to capitalise and the game entered a cautious spell with neither side prepared to run too many risks. Gladbach broke at speed on 34 minutes but Neuer was equal to Filip Daems’ well-struck effort, before Gomez’ first touch let him down in a good position, and Robben blasted a gilt-edged opening created by Ribery into the crowd.
Ribery was motoring now and brilliantly set up Alaba, but ter Stegen got a hand to the Austrian’s angled shot and the ball flew away to safety. Dante directed a header wide of Neuer’s goal as the first half drew to its goalless close.
Robben hit the side-netting with the first chance of the second period after a lovely interchange with Müller, but there was a let-off at the other end when Juan Arango spooned over from only ten yards after a spot of confusion in the Munich back line. Ter Stegen beat away Robben’s rising drive as the pace quickened, and it took a desperate lunge from Martin Stranzl to stop Gomez’ charge, the Gladbach defender injuring himself in the process.
Neuer gathered after a scramble in the box and Robben curled one wide at the other end, but the intensity died down again as the game entered the final quarter of an hour, both sides sensing one goal in normal time could settle it.
FCB tried again and Ter Stegen blocked from Gomez at point-blank range after 81 minutes, but Neuer kept his side in the match three minutes later after Gladbach sub Igor De Camargo played in Reus with only the FCB keeper to beat, and the regulation 90 minutes ended goalless.
Ribery skidded the first chance of extra-time past Ter Stegen’s near post, before Heynckes opted for his first change and sent on Olic for the luckless Gomez. The remainder of the first additional 15 minutes passed without incident, and Nils Petersen took over from Müller for the last quarter of an hour.
FCB were the victims of poor refereeing when Ribery was flagged offside despite the ball clearly having come from a home player, and Ter Stegen fisted Robben’s fierce drive away for a corner, but the Dutchman’s next attempt to find a gap failed as the precision ebbed away on both sides.
The game duly went to penalties, where Dante lofted his effort into the crowd and Neuer saved from Nordtveit to send the travelling support into raptures – and start mentally preparing for a wonderful day out in the capital in May.
Chris Hamley reporting from Borussia Park for fcbayern.de
|Borussia M'gladbach - Bayern Munich 0-0 (aet), FCB win 4-2 on penalties|
|Borussia M'gladbach||ter Stegen - Jantschke, Stranzl (Brouwers 62), Dante, Daems - Neustädter, Nordtveit - Wendt (Herrmann 62), Arango - Reus, Hanke (Camargo 75)|
|Bayern Munich||Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Badstuber, Alaba - Luiz Gustavo, Kroos - Robben, Müller (Petersen 106), Ribery - Gomez (Olic 100)|
|Substitutes:||Butt, Contento, Rafinha, Pranjic, Tymoshchuk|
|Referee:||Mr. Kinhöfer (Herne)|
|Goals:||Penalty shoot-out: 0-1 Alaba, 1-1 Daems, 1-2 Ribéry, 2-2 Herrmann, 2-3 Lahm, Dante missed, 2-4 Kroos, Nordtveit missed|
|Yellow Cards:||Jantschke / Robben, Kroos|