Union progress to quarterfinals after 2-3 derby defeat of Hertha, while Grifo bagged two goals in Freiburg's 1-4 demolition of Hoffenheim.
|FC Union's Dominique Heintz.||Photo: 1. FC Union Berlin|
One of, if not the most appetising fixture drawn for the DfB Pokal’s Round of 16 ties included the meeting of arch-rivals Hertha Berlin taking on capital neighbours, FC Union Berlin. The two fierce opponents had already met in Matchday 12 of the Bundesliga campaign – FC Union came out victorious on a 2-0 score line. A derby of any kind is good to win, but the impetus behind this game was even greater considering one Berlin club had to win tonight and simultaneously shatter the other’s Pokal dreams.
Union took no time before giving their hosts an early warning signal. Both Voglsammer and Heintz respectively stung the gloves of Schwolow inside the first 90 seconds. Despite the Olympiastadion bordering on empty thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, the game was far from short on noise in the opening 10 minutes as Hertha fans created a hostile atmosphere for their opponents.
A deafening silence soon rang out around the ground when FC Union scored to make it 1-0 on 11 minutes, and what a goal it was. Kruse found Voglsammer in the box, but the striker realigned himself and pulled off a breath-taking acrobatic volley which dipped over the helpless Schwolow.
Die Alte Dame enjoyed a good spell around the half hour mark and leading up to the break. Any of several Hertha players, which included Richter and Belfodil, had good opportunities in the space of seconds but the Union rear-guard did enough to block any effort on Luthe’s goal. Hertha thought they equalised before halftime when Serdar converted. His celebrations would be cut short when VAR spotted Belfodil offside in the build-up.
Five minutes into the second half and visitors Union extended their lead. Oztunali brough the ball forward with pace down the right touchline before delivering a low cross into the box. In the end, it was the unfortunate Nicklas Stark who could do little to prevent the ball from deflecting into his own net.
Suddenly the game began to rain goals in quick succession. The home side clawed their way back into the match on 54 minutes to keep the tie hanging in the balance. Serdar’s attempted cross caught the studs of the sliding Rani Khedira who unintentionally guided the ball past Luthe from an almost impossible angle making it 1-2. This fightback was shortlived however, as sixty seconds later Knoche drilled home for 1-3 when he got on the end of Oczipka’s perfectly weighted freekick. This was a big kick in the teeth of Korkut’s Hertha who briefly halved the deficit only to be pegged back again.
The rest of the game went through the motions in the closing stages, with chances few and far between the two sides. Hertha desperately pushed for a second goal to give themselves a fighting chance. French duo Tousart and Maolida tried their luck from difficult angles, and even a late goal from Serdar to make it 2-3 in added time just wasn’t enough.
Union Berlin and their fans will rejoice and revel in the wake of this victory, while Hertha will tend to their wounds and hope to inflict revenge when they meet again in Bundesliga action later in the season.
Hoffenheim vs Freiburg:
Hoffenheim did battle with Freiburg in tonight’s final Pokal matchup which took place under the Sinsheim night sky. Both teams would have known beforehand that this would be a close fought affair given how well the two are performing in the Bundesliga this season. In the end it was quite the opposite of that.
Grifo made the scores 0-1 inside ten minutes after teammate Holer provided the final pass. The Italian winger then doubled his personal tally on 36 minutes from the penalty spot when Bebou was adjudged to have handled the ball, which made it 0-2 before the half ended.
Hoffenheim did manage to pull a goal back once the second half resumed. Kramaric’s cross from the left was intended for Bebou, but the Togolese forward had his job done for him when Schotterbeck was the unfortunate candidate who put the ball into his own net.
Kevin Schade made it a two-goal lead once more on 55 minutes, while Bosnian striker Demirovic converted before the 70-minute mark which left a resounding 1-4 score line in favour of Streich’s charges. Freiburg advance to the next round while Hoffenheim must turn their full attention to the remainder of their upcoming Bundesliga fixtures.