The DFB Pokal final between SC Freiburg and RB Leipzig ended at the Olympiastadion Berlin on Saturday with a 1-1 draw after extra time requiring penalties to determine the winner. This was despite the fact that Domenico Tedesco’s team finished with just nine players on the field, as both Marcel Halstenberg and Kevin Kampl were red as both teams battled for their first major silver.
Ultimately, it was Leipzig who won and Freiburg endured the grief of Christian Günther and Ermedin Demirovich failing to score a goal, which sealed a 4-2 penalty shoot-out defeat. It was heralded as a battle of the best in German football against the worst. given the controversial nature of Bundesliga baby Red Bull and the wholesome tale of the people of Christian Streich.
The outsiders got off to a perfect start, taking the lead in the 19th minute thanks to Maximilian Eggstein after Roland Sallai passed him. Freiburg remained in the lead in the second half and received a significant boost in the 57th minute when Halstenberg was sent off with a straight red card.
However, RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku saved them with 14 minutes left when he equalized after a Willy Orban pass and sent the match into extra time. There were no more goals in the German capital, although Kampl managed to get a second yellow card with two minutes left to go off the pitch.
Those were penalties and Günther was a bad guy at the start of the fall when he failed to convert Freiburg’s second shot from the spot. However, the decisive miss came from Demirovich, who saw his effort hit the crossbar to hand Leipzig their first silver and set off jubilant scenes in the ranks of Die Roten Bullen.
Unfortunately, the lifting of the trophy was ruined due to both sides worrying about a member of the stadium staff who passed out before the winners could claim their prize. A medical emergency was declared and an ambulance was required to evacuate the victim.
Tyler Adams, the only participating USMNT star, came on for Konrad Laimer in the 99th minute but missed Leipzig’s penalty as Nkunku, Orban, Dani Olmo and Benjamin Heinrichs converted theirs. Despite the bitter defeat, Freiburg can be proud of reaching the final and qualifying for the UEFA Europa League group stage via the German Bundesliga.
As for Leipzig, they have secured a place in the UEFA Champions League and have now enjoyed their first major success since Tedesco completed a mid-season rescue after Jesse Marsh’s short stint with the head coach. However, it won’t be the most popular cup success in Europe this season given the vague idea of Leipzig’s rise.
This is another confirmation of the progress they have made in recent years after the semi-finals of the Champions League and Europa League. The challenge now will be to challenge Bayern Munich once again at the Bundesliga summit, while Freiburg will look to enjoy their European adventure and make qualifying a regular.