It took 30 minutes of extra time and an intense penalty shootout to separate two sides fighting for their Bundesliga lives over at the Ruhrstadion an der Castroper Straße.
In the end, one miss from Augsburg's Arne Maier in a spot-kick lottery that went five rounds enables VfL Bochum to prevail over visiting Augsburg. Bochum keeper Manuel Riemann himself turned around and converted the winning penalty.
Over in Mannheim and Dresden, two other Pokal fixtures also went into extra time. FC St. Pauli (3-2 over Dynamo Dresden) and FC Union Berlin (3-1 over Waldhof Mannheim) advanced without shootouts.
Quite literally everything was on the line Wednesday night in Nordrhein-Westfalen as the current 14th-placed team in the Bundesliga table hosted the 16th-placed. Newly promoted VfL Bochum, riding an unexpected league upset over Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday night, entered the contest with some momentum. Despite this, trainer Thomas Reis made six changes to the XI that beat the SGE 2-0. Among these was the insertion of back-up keeper Michael Esser over his normal #1 Manuel Riemann.
The Bavarian Swabians of FC Augsburg found themselves in crisis following a 1-4 drubbing away at Mainz last Friday night. Head-coach Marcus Weinzierl issued challenges to his players, compelling them to follow his lead and bring about a turnaround after their anemic start to the season. Two changes to the Fuggerstädter XI saw two changes. The trainer replaced attackers Carlos Gruezo and Sergio Cordova with Andi Zeqiri and Arne Maier. The latter actually worked as a service striker in a 4-4-2.
The FCA had immediate difficulty containing the spry hosts. Bochum went ahead early on a well designed set piece. Former Bayern prospect Milos Pantovic finished off a short corner after some nice work from Konstantinos Stafylidis in the 12th. Augsburg had gotten the best chance of the match off their own nicely devised corner, but it was Esser with the solid save. Weinzierl's midfield, to their credit, rose to the occasion and stymied further Bochum advances over the course of the first-half. The hosts only led 1-0 at the break.
Matters had calmed down quite a bit during the rest of the initial 45. Pantovic ensured that the tenor would be significantly different in the second. The 25-year-old Serbian had his brace eight minutes in with a skillful sniper-shot from just inside the box. Augsburg somehow managed to remain calm and pulled one back less than three minutes later. Reece Oxford headed home a side-footed Maier free-kick for a 56th minute tally. In the 58th, the FCA had the equalizer when Ruben Vargas slammed home a rebound of a Zeqiri shot.
Both sides continued to generate chances through the end of normal time and even deep into the added periods. Michael Gregoritsch missed perhaps the best chance to give Augsburg the lead in the 96th. Pantovic and Sebastian Polter couldn't quite get the coordination right on a monster chance for Bochum in the 107th. As the match headed to penalties, Reis used his fifth and final substitution to bring Manuel Riemann on for Esser in the 118th.
Bochum's #1 actually didn't end up stopping a single shot in the shootout. Gregoritsch, Tobias Strobl, Alfred Finnbogason, and captain Jeffrey Gouweleeuw all converted their chances. When it came Maier's turn, the Germany U21 captain from Stefan Kuntz's 2021 UEFA U21 Championship squad skied over. Then came Riemann's turn. The Bochum net-minder calmly strode to the spot and converted to give his side the 5-4 victory on penalties.
Elsewhere in the other two fixtures that went into extra time, Union Berlin needed a some more minutes to get the better of SV Waldhof Mannheim down in the Kurpfälz. Alexander Rossipal sent the home crowd into convulsions when he put the home side ahead in the 4th minute. Kevin Behrens was able to equalize shortly thereafter, but the two sides remained deadlocked after 90 minutes.
Taiwo Awoniyi put die Eisernen ahead three minutes into the start of added extra time. Behrens then completed a brace in the 117th. Veteran journeyman Behrens has now scored an incredible five goals across all competitions for his new club.
Over at a sold-out Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion in, FC St. Pauli also prevailed in extra time in their visit to Dynamo Dresden. That match featured even more goals in a tight time span. The visiting Hamburgers and hosting Saxons exchanged two tallies apiece in a ten-minute-span between the 63rd and 73rd. Christopher Buchtmann scored what would prove the winner in the 101st.
|21||M. Esser ↪118|
|37||A. Bella-Kotchap ↪99|
|3||D. Soares ↪61|
|8||A. Losilla (C)|
|27||M. Pantović ⚽⚽|
|22||C. Antwi-Adjej ↪61|
|17||G. Holtmann ↪99|
|1||M. Riemann ↩118|
|7||D. Blum ↩99|
|10||T. Asano ↩61|
|2||C. Gamboa ↩61|
|24||K. Lambropoulos ↩99|
|6||J. Gouweleeuw (C)|
|4||R. Oxford ⚽|
|20||D. Caligiuri ↪46|
|28||A. Hahn ↪64|
|16||R. Vargas ⚽ ↪64|
|21||A. Zeqiri ↪75|
|9||S. Córdova ↩64|
|11||M. Gregoritsch ↩75|
|27||A. Finnbogason ↩46|
|29||L. Günther ↩90|
|17||N. Sarenren-Bazee ↩64 ↪90|