That didn't take long! A recently promoted team from the 2. Bundesliga provided a sensational upset of a Bundesliga side on the DFB-Pokal's opening evening.
|Bruno Labbadia.||Photo: GEPA Pictures/Sven Sonntag|
Second-tier side Eintracht Braunschweig ensured that the first major upset of 2020/21 German domestic-league cup took place on its very first day. Riding a spectacular hat trick from midfielder Martin Kobylanski, the recently promoted Lions of Lower Saxony ousted Bruno Labbidia’s Hertha BSC in a nine-goal thriller at their home stadium.
The 26-year-old Kobylanski was unquestionably the man of the evening. The Polish international, who has played most of his career in the third division, made certain that his first ever DFB-Pokal appearance turned out to be a night he “wouldn’t soon forget”.
At first hesitant to comment on his performance, an elated Kobylanski did let slip that a duel against Hertha was something of a special affair for him, “because I played for the Eisernen”. The evening’s star played nineteen fixtures for Hertha’s cross-town rivals 1. FC Union Berlin whilst on loan in the 2014/15 season. “I’m pleased to have shot the goals against Hertha,” he added.
Another former FC Union player, Nigerian Suleiman Abdullahi, scored what would prove to be the winning goal in the wild 5-4 affair. Braunschweig’s other tally came courtesy of an Maximillian Mittelstädt own-goal after a 17th minute corner. Matheus Cunha and Peter Pekarik found the back of the net for “die alte Dame” whilst Dodi Lukebakio also grabbed a brace. Unfortunately, four goals would prove insufficient.
The match constituted something of a nightmare debut for new Hertha keeper Alexander Schwolow. The €8 million transfer from Freiburg labelled the evening “a catastrophe”. Everything that could possibly gone wrong went wrong for the new addition. Schwolow even stretched to save a Kobylanski penalty, only to have has parry bounce back to the encroaching striker, who scored on his second effort.
By all accounts, Hertha remained the dominant team throughout the match. Labbadia’s men maintained 65 percent possession, fired in an impressive 25 shots on goal, and ensured that Braunschweig were pinned back in their own half for long stretches. Despite this, the own-goal, the flagrant foul leading to the penalty, and some genuine slapstick defensive errors saw the favorites eliminated.
“I have seldom experienced such a game,” Labbadia remarked at the post-match press conference, “It’s hard to explain. We made so many individual mistakes that we couldn’t compensate.”