Second division side Karlsruher SC are through the the 2021/22 DFB Pokal round-of-16 after completing a shock upset of Bayer 04 Leverkusen Wednesday evening at the BayArena.
Gerardo Seoane's Werkself are now suddenly winless in four matches on the bounce after a 1-5 humiliation against Bayern at home kicked off a bad form spell.
The club that made it all the way the final of the 2019/20 DFB Pokal will be watching the rest of this year's competition from the sidelines. Despite a three-to-one advantage in terms of shots, Christian Eichner's KSC rolled into town and got the better of the heavy favorites with a 2-1 advantage in the only stat that counts.
Leverkusen trainer Gerardo Seoane, having to do without the injured Patrik Schick and Karim Bellarabi, also couldn't fall back on his ordinarily reliable second-string striker Lucas Alario. The Argentine was unavailable due to muscular problems. Seoane's solution was to deploy Paulinho atop a 4-2-3-1.
Nadiem Amiri functioned as a ten behind the Brazilian, flanked by Moussa Diaby and Amine Adli. Exequiel Palacios and Robert Andrich worked as double sixes. Defensive rotations saw Mitchell Bakker and Edmond Tapsoba take over for Piero Hincapie and Odilon Kossounou in the back four.
The grave Leverkusen personnel situation saw two heralded youth prospects suit up for the bench squad. Seoane called upon both Danish prodigy Zidan Sertdemir and Spanish phenom Iker Bravo to stand in reserve.
KSC trainer Christian Eicher went all-in with ambitious 4-3-3 press. His very best attackers--Lucas Cueto, Philipp Hofmann, and Young-Rok Choi--formed a triplicate striker set. Captain Jerome Gondorf moved all the way up to a buttressing wing position. Young Tim Breithaupt locked in some extra security as the sweeper.
The visiting Badeners pressed high from the beginning, pinning the home side back with some vigorous possessional football. Within four minutes, the guests were rewarded for their efforts. A strong cross from Marvin Wanitzek was furthered by Hofmann inside the box. Keeper Lukas Hradecky could only tip a deflected off Tapsoba's head directly into Cueto's path. The summer acquisition from Viktoria Köln finished from close range.
The NRW hosts did their utmost to respond to the early goal, but Diaby, Adli, and Paulinho all couldn't find the finish during a flurry of chances over the next ten minutes. The indefatigable Jeremie Frimpong created quite a few breakthroughs on his right-hand side. As amazing as the Dutch fullback's pace was, the KSC's offside trap also turned in a disciplined performance to continually frustrate die Werkself. The initial 45 ended with the KSC up 1-0.
Eichner's XI actually looked the stronger side in the first minutes after the restart. Keeper Hradecky and B04 center back Jonthan Tah had to remain alert on several early chances. Bayer found themselves living for the counter once again. Karlsruhe captain Gondorf did extremely well to shut a pair of them down. Finally, in the 54th, Frimpong got his much-deserved goal. Adli was courteous enough to steer a rebound from Frimpong's own shot back to him.
For the 20-year-old Amsterdam native, his first goal in Leverkusen's colors could not have come at a better time. Buoyed by the equalizer, Germany's red company team took control of the game again and the lead seemed to be in reach. Bakker tore up his own flank just moments later. Unfortunately, Paulinho couldn't find the finish on the cross. The Brazilian would miss two more chances before the Badeners improbably retook the lead.
Hradecky misplayed a back-pass from Frimpong in the 64th. Karlsruhe's South Korean star Choi pounced and showed remarkable composure carefully picking out his angle and finish. Seoane proceeded to send in the cavalry. Florian Wirtz and Kerem Demirbay came in first. Daley Sinkgraven and even Iker Bravo himself would not be far behind.
Some sparkling saves from KSC keeper Marius Gersbeck, along with some epic misses from Bravo, Adli, and Andrich ensured that the visiting BaWü underdogs held on for what was an exceedingly nervy final 15 minutes. The Leverkusen onslaught continued right up to the finish, with Bravo missing the final chance at 90+5.
|1||L. Hradecky (C)|
|30||J. Frimpong ⚽|
|5||M. Bakker ↪77|
|25||E. Palacios ↪65|
|11||N. Amiri ↪65|
|28||I. Bravo Solanilla ↩77|
|22||D. Sinkgraven ↩77|
|10||K. Demirbay ↩65|
|27||F. Wirtz ↩65|
|16||P. Heise ↪85|
|38||T. Breithaupt ↪82|
|11||Choi Kyoung-Rok ⚽|
|8||J. Gondorf (C)|
|17||L. Cueto ⚽ ↪66|
|33||P. Hofmann ↪81|
|9||M. Batmaz ↩81|
|24||F. Schleusener ↩82|
|4||R. van Rhijn|
|18||K. Jakob ↩85|
|7||M. Lorenz ↩66|